Health and Care Bill introduced to Parliament

July 6, 2021

New legislation aimed to deliver an integrated health and social care system has been introduced to Parliament.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that new proposals to build a modern health and care system, that delivers better care for our communities, will be introduced in Parliament today.

In February 2021, the Government set out its proposed plans and its introduction in Parliament today follows extensive discussions with NHS England, the Local Government Association and the health and care sector to refine this blueprint.

The Bill will ensure each part of England has an Integrated Care Board and an Integrated Care Partnership responsible for bringing together local NHS and local government, such as social care, mental health services and public health advice, to deliver joined-up care for its local population. Clinicians, carers and public health experts will be empowered to operate collaboratively across health and care, as part of plans to tackle inequalities and level up health across the country. The Bill will also introduce measures to tackle obesity and improve oral health.

It will also dispose of unnecessary bureaucracy that has held the health service back so that health and care staff can focus on patients, not paperwork, and ensure the system is able to flex to changing needs in the years to come. It will ensure NHS England is more accountable to Government, and by extension Parliament, while ensuring the NHS retains everyday operational and clinical oversight.

Some of the key measures include:

  • The NHS and local government coming together to plan health and care services around their patients’ needs, and quickly implement innovative solutions to problems that would normally take years to fix, including moving services out of hospitals and into the community, focusing on preventative healthcare.
  • The development of a new procurement regime for the NHS and public health procurement, informed by public consultation, to reduce bureaucracy on commissioners and providers alike, and reduce the need for competitive tendering where it adds limited or no value. This will mean staff can spend more time on patients and providing care, and local NHS services will have more power to act in the best interests of their communities.
  • A package of measures to deliver on specific needs in the social care sector. This will improve oversight and accountability in the delivery of services through new assurance and data sharing measures in social care, update the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge, and introduce improved powers for the Secretary of State to directly make payments to adult social care providers where required.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, said, ‘The astonishing response of our health and care services to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit fast-forward on some of the bold changes the NHS set out to deliver in its Long Term Plan and shone the spotlight on other areas that require a change to achieve better care for our communities.’

Rob Webster CBE, Chief Executive, West Yorkshire, and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, said, ‘One of the real strengths of our ICS has been the emphasis on shared purpose and real ambitions, such as tackling health inequalities for colleagues and communities from ethnic minority groups, for people with a learning disability and enduring mental illness. We have ten such big ambitions agreed collectively and to be delivered in collaboration. It is great to see the permissive nature of the legislation which allows for systems like ours to build on the progress we have made, and to drive delivery through partnerships in places and provider collaboratives.’

Professor Claire Fuller, Surrey Heartlands ICS Lead, said, ‘Integrating care makes a huge difference to the population when we get it right, and I have seen the benefits it can bring for both patients and for those of us working in health and care. I am therefore really pleased that we will now be pressing ahead with this agenda through the Health and Care Bill, and I hope we can collectively seize the opportunities it brings.’

The Kings Fund review, what can we learn from the 2011 Bill?

Those most vulnerable to COVID-19 may be offered a booster vaccine from September to provide protection against new variants over winter. This follows interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

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