Parliamentary Briefing: House of Lords Committee Stage, Health and Care Bill
- We welcome the direction of travel set out in the Bill which aims to drive closer collaboration and integration across the health and social care sector, helping trusts to build healthier communities.
- While we welcome the move to system working, more clarity on how different parts of the health system will work together is needed. Allowing different systems flexibility in how they frame their arrangements to meet local needs will also be key.
- We are concerned that provisions in the Bill open up the possibility of political interference in the health service by drawing significant powers of intervention and direction to the secretary of state. Maintaining the clinical and operational independence of the NHS is vital to ensuring this complex system can work effectively. Similarly, we are concerned that new powers to allow the secretary of state to intervene in local service reconfigurations, as currently drafted, risk undermining local accountability in the NHS.
- We welcome measures in the Bill to place a new duty on the secretary of state setting out how workforce planning responsibilities are to be discharged but believe this duty needs to be strengthened.
- The Bill gives a new power to NHS England to restrict the spending of any individual NHS foundation trust. We wish to see important safeguards added to this proposal within the Bill to mirror what was agreed in NHS England’s 2019 legislative proposals.
- We believe that the new provisions that will give the Care Quality Commission (CQC) scope to assess and rate systems need to be amended so that they do not impact on its ability to provide independent assurance – in particular, the secretary of state’s powers to set priorities and objectives for the CQC’s assessments of integrated care boards (ICBs) are concerning.