The King's Fund's response to the Health and Care Bill vote in the House of Lords to block new ministerial powers

This content relates to the following topics:

In a second government defeat in the Report stage of the Health and Care Bill, members of the House of Lords have voted to block new powers for ministers to intervene in NHS service change decisions. 

Commenting on the vote to block the ministerial powers, Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: 

‘Extensive new powers for ministers to intervene in local NHS service changes would have dragged national politics into decisions best made locally based on clinical judgement. I welcome the decision of the House of Lords to protect the clinical and operational independence of the NHS by stripping these powers from the Health and Care Bill.   

‘The new powers raised the prospect of a decision-making log jam as even minor service change proposals stacked up on the Secretary of State’s desk. For a government intent on reducing bureaucracy, these powers could have created a heavy bureaucratic burden. 

‘Rather than attempt to overturn this vote when the Bill returns to the House of Commons, I encourage ministers to think again about measures that would undermine clinical judgement and delay improvements to patient care.’ 

Notes to editors

For interview requests, please contact The King’s Fund press office on 07584 146035 (during and outside of office hours) or mediaoffice@kingsfund.org.uk  (during office hours). 

  • Member of the House of Lords defeated the government 145 to 122 to remove the new powers from the Health and Care Bill (Clause 40, Schedule 6). 
  • MPS may seek to overturn this decision when the Health and Care Bill goes back to the House of Commons. 
  • Speaking in an earlier debate on the Health and Care Bill, former chief executive of NHS England, Lord Stevens, described the proposed new powers as ‘unnecessary, undesirable and unworkable’. He said, ‘had these measures been in place during the pandemic, would have handicapped the response, at precisely the time when the NHS needs to be agile and adaptable, and will do nothing to advance the changes needed across front-line care delivery’. 

Next week, peers will vote on the government’s controversial change to the cap on social care costs. The King’s Fund believes the change to the social care cap is regressive and will mean that the main beneficiaries of the government’s reforms will be people with higher assets, while the benefit to people with low to moderate assets will be marginal.  

Read the latest briefing on the Health and Care Bill from The King’s Fund.

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.