The government today outlined its plans to further improve the Health and Social Care Bill as it prepares to re-enter the House of Lords next week.
As the Health and Social Care Bill has progressed through the Lords, the government has listened to peers, and is now coming forward with amendments to further strengthen its plans to safeguard the future of the NHS.
Health Minister Lord Howe has now laid a number of amendments that reaffirm the government’s commitment to putting patients at the heart of the NHS and handing power to GPs and nurses.
The amendments include:
• Secretary of State accountability: Putting beyond doubt the Secretary of State’s responsibility and accountability with respect to a comprehensive health service. These amendments follow constructive cross party discussion about this issue;
• Greater patient involvement: Patients will have a greater say in their health, with the NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups having stronger duties to promote patient involvement in their own care;
• Education and training: The NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups will have new responsibilities to support education and training, strengthening the links between workforce planning and education and training.
• Health inequalities: A new duty on the Secretary of State, NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups to report annually on their progress in tackling health inequalities.
• Strengthening integration: Making clear that the health regulator Monitor will have the power to require healthcare providers to promote integration of NHS services.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“The principles of our modernisation plans - ‘no decision about me, without me’ for patients, clinical leadership with doctors and nurses leading discussions on services, a focus on results for patients and reducing bureaucracy - have always been at the core of the Bill. These principles are widely accepted as reported by the independent NHS Future Forum. But we have been carefully listening to the ideas raised as the Bill has progressed through Parliament. And as a result we have today tabled a series of amendments to address these remaining issues.”
Charles Alessi, Chairman of the National Association of Primary Care, said:
“As a coalition, the NAPC and the NHS Alliance believe that the future lies in empowering Clinical Commissioning Groups. We need to allow them the autonomy they need to manage the care of their patients and local community.
“There needs to be local solutions to local need - what patients need in Taunton isn’t the same to what patients need in Lewisham. Local clinicians, in partnerships with patients, are best placed to make those decisions.”
Paul Bowen, a Cheshire GP involved in a Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“I can see that the benefits of this evolutionary change will have a positive impact on the NHS for years to come. In the last 18 months I’ve seen more collaboration, enthusiasm and accepted responsibility from GP colleagues, engaged patients and other NHS leaders.
“As a GP, I want to be able to have more control of the care I offer to patients and give them a greater choice of high quality health services. I think the Bill offers all health professionals this opportunity.”
Report stage in the House of Lords is due to commence on 8 February.
Notes to Editors:
1. For media enquiries, please contact the Department of Health Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221
2. The full list of amendments can be found on the Department of Health website.