We welcome the plans to strengthen Health and Care legislation set out in the White Paper.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how crucial it is that health and social care services work well together and so we believe Healthwatch need to build on that. Proposals to strengthen collaboration between services is a step in the right direction and can bring real benefits for patients, address the wider factors of health and support people in living better healthier lives.
Responding to the Health and Care White Paper which outlines proposals for legislation to make major changes to the way the NHS is organised, Healthwatch Lincolnshire Contract Coordinator Dean Odell said:
“We support Lincolnshire people to share with us their experiences and views of health and social care. We know the public want a more joined up and personalised experience and this is a step in the right direction. Therefore, we welcome the commitment in this White Paper to strengthen and assess patient voice at every level of the system – a crucial step towards helping everyone get the care they need, regardless of age, ethnicity and health conditions.”
Dean went on to say “There is a lot more detail to work through in the months to come both nationally and locally but we look forward to working with the Lincolnshire Health and Social Care system to ensure the voices of patients, service users and the public are used to shape decision making at all levels.”
Health and Care White Paper
On 11 February 2021, the Government published a White Paper setting out a number of proposed reforms to our Health and Care Services.
According to NHS Confederation, here are the key points in the White Paper:
- Integrated care systems (ICSs) are to be established on a statutory footing through both an ‘NHS ICS Board’ (this will also include representatives from local authorities) and an ICS Health and Care Partnership. The NHS ICS body will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the ICS, NHS planning and allocation decisions. The partnership will locally bring together the NHS, local Government and wider partners, such as those in the voluntary sector, to address the Health, Social Care and Public Health needs of their system.
- A duty to collaborate will be created to promote collaboration across the Healthcare, Public Health and Social Care system. This will apply to all partners within systems, including local authorities.
- There will be new powers for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care over the NHS and other arm’s-length bodies (ALBs). Under the proposals, the Secretary of State will be able to intervene in service reconfiguration changes at any point without need for a referral from a local authority. The Department of Health and Social Care will also be able to reconfigure and transfer the functions of arm’s-length bodies (including closing them down) without primary legislation.
- Certain new duties on the Secretary of State will also be introduced. This will include a statutory duty to publish a report to Parliament on workforce planning responsibilities across primary, secondary and community care, as well as sections of the workforce shared between health and social care (such as district nurses).
- There will be significant changes to procurement. It is proposed that section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (including the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations 2013) will be repealed and replaced with a new procurement regime. However, it is important that we avoid ending up with local monopolies and continue to work effectively with the independent and voluntary sector.
- The White Paper fails to address other key areas where reform is long overdue. The Government says that reforms to Social Care and Public Health will be dealt with “later in 2021” outside the Health and Care Bill addressed in the White Paper, with some minor exceptions.
Find out more about the new proposals to join up Health and Social Care services here.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire addressing ICS
In response to the emerging developments of an Integrated Care System (ICS) in Lincolnshire, as well as the planned presentation to Parliament in 2021 of the Department of Health and Social Care White Paper ‘Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’, which sets out legislative proposals for a Health and Care Bill; Healthwatch Lincolnshire consider this to be such a significant step in the delivery of our health and care services that they have set up a dedicated ICS Working Group. This Working Group has already planned a meeting with key personnel from the NHS Lincolnshire CCG to discuss Healthwatch Lincolnshire’s role and most importantly the role of patients, carers, service users and the public in the ICS going forward.