The legislative changes in the white paper released today (11 February) include giving local and central Government more control over the NHS – which is expected to be implemented in 2022
With the UK undergoing an unprecedented public health crisis, the announcement of a major infrastructural shift is met with mixed reactions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained that: “The NHS and local government have long been calling for better integration and less burdensome bureaucracy, and this virus has made clear the time for change is now.”
The paper is quick to explain that none of the proposed policies are a cohesive NHS reform as they are, explicitly suggesting that “social care reform” legislation will come “later this year,” but lacking a date or indication of what that reform might look like.
The new legislation proposed in this paper is due to come into implementation in 2022.
Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, commented: “Today the Tories announce another NHS reorganisation this time in the midst of a pandemic. With 224,000 people patients waiting over 12 months for treatment & nurses saying the NHS is on its knees, Boris Johnson needs to explain how his reorganisation will improve patient care.”
What are some of the NHS reform proposals?
- Scrapping some tendering processes that waste NHS time
- Putting Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch permanently into law as a statutory body
- Giving the Secretary of State power to directly make payments to adult social care providers when needed
- Calorie labelling on food and drink packaging, plus no junk food adverts before 9pm
‘More joined-up care, less legal bureaucracy’
A crucial part of the 2022 changes appear to be built around “NHS and local authorities” working together, sharing data, cutting administrative processes down and involving the community in further preventative work. The paper says that “many local system leaders were seeing huge benefits” from working like this, even before the pandemic forced some processes to be digitally streamlined.
Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, said: “Our legislative proposals go with the grain of what patients and staff across the health service all want to see – more joined-up care, less legal bureaucracy and a sharper focus on prevention, inequality and social care.”
The proposal shaped by this idea is an integrated care system (ICS), which would formally “bring together NHS NHS organisations, local government and wider partners at a system level.”
The paper further explains that “ICSs will be accountable for outcomes of the health of the population and we are exploring ways to enhance the role of CQC [Care Quality Commission] in reviewing system working.”
Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “Legislation won’t make collaboration happen, but it can remove barriers and facilitate the changes that the NHS really needs as we move into the post-pandemic recovery stage. It is vital that we see genuine clinical engagement at every level of the operation of the ICS to drive collaboration.”