Commenting on publication of the Health and Care Bill, Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:
‘These are important reforms that could be undermined by controversial plans for greater ministerial interference in the day-to-day running of the NHS.
‘This Bill will remove cumbersome competition rules and make it simpler for health and care organisations to work together to deliver more joined-up care to the increasing numbers of people who rely on multiple different services.
‘Many of these reforms were requested by the NHS itself. Failure to pass these aspects of the Bill would go against the wishes of NHS leaders and leave in place elements of the market-based approach to health and care that has led to today’s fragmented system.
‘While there is much to welcome, the success of these reforms will critically depend on how they are implemented locally. Ministers therefore need to do more to set out a compelling case for what these reforms should achieve and the difference they will make to patients and service users.
‘As well as some positive changes, the Bill includes sweeping new powers for Ministers to intervene in local service changes. Such broad powers create the risk of political expediency trumping clinical judgement in these important decisions.
‘Chronic staff shortages have dogged services for years. Yet the measures in this Bill to address workforce issues are wholly inadequate. We are calling for a new duty to publish regular workforce supply-and-demand projections to highlight where action is needed to avert a deepening of the workforce crisis.
‘In addition to the reforms proposed in this Bill, there is a pressing need for the Prime Minister to publish the plan to ‘fix social care’ that he promised two years ago this month. Reforming health services while leaving the social care sector in crisis would be a recipe for failure.’
Notes to editors
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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.