The health and care bill was introduced on Tuesday 6 July 2021 and promotes integration between health and care. It is the first major piece of primary legislation on health and care in England since the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This briefing summarises healthcare leaders' views on the reforms, ahead of the second reading of bill on Wednesday 14 July.
Key points for parliamentarians
- Health leaders broadly welcome the reforms, many of which were set out in a white paper in the spring. There is clear consensus across the Confederation’s membership that the future of health and care must be based on collaboration and partnership working at a local level. The reforms proposed in the bill will provide the necessary updates to legislation to make that happen.
- We encourage MPs to support the bill as it is an essential enabler to the integration of healthcare services. The legislation is catching up with changes that have been taking place on the ground for many months, if not years in some parts of the country.
- However, there are important areas of the bill that we believe need to be amended during the legislative process:
- Greater clarity and checks and balances on the basis upon which the Secretary of State’s power to intervene in the NHS will be used.
- Provisions for workforce planning should be strengthened, ensuring the NHS has the people it needs to provide high-quality care.
- We need further clarity from the government on how integrated care system (ICS) partnerships and health and wellbeing boards will work alongside each other.
- Greater clarity on whether accountability for quality of care ultimately lies with trusts or systems.
- Alongside the bill, the Secretary of State should urgently clarify the future of ICS boundaries to allow leaders to plan for the future.