New Health and Care Bill broadly welcome but social care forgotten again

11 May 2021

Responding to proposals in the Queen's Speech today, the chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said:

"The Health and Care Bill announced in the Queen's Speech today sets out the biggest reforms to the NHS in nearly a decade, laying the foundations to improve health outcomes by joining up NHS, social care and public health services at a local level.

"Trust leaders broadly welcome the direction of the bill, but there are several areas where we will be seeking further clarity, reassurances and safeguards. First, trusts want to ensure their operational independence, and that of the wider NHS, is protected. Second, they want to be in the driving seat when it comes to making changes to local services to improve care and keep patients safe. Third, they'll want to ensure there is no confusion or overlap between what they and the new integrated care systems do. Trust leaders also want reassurances they won't be inappropriately instructed to restrict their spending on new equipment and buildings, risking quality of care.

It's also vital that the bill puts a proper, funded, long term NHS workforce plan in place.

"It's also vital that the bill puts a proper, funded, long term NHS workforce plan in place. This is all the more important given the sheer scale of the challenge facing the NHS in the years ahead, such as clearing the backlog of care.

"We are pleased the government has committed to providing more funding today to help the NHS recover and transform in the years ahead.

"Just £1bn in non-recurrent funding has been promised to the NHS to date to help clear the backlog for non-urgent operations, alongside £325m for diagnostics equipment. As a bare minimum, we need at least three years' extra dedicated funding, on top of what was promised in the May government's settlement and the money that's already been set aside for extra COVID-19 costs.

"While the government outlined its agenda for NHS reform today, it's deeply disappointing that the Queen's Speech has once again failed to deliver a detailed plan which sets out the radical change we need on social care. The prime minister made a personal commitment to fix social care once and for all. He must now be true to his word."