The King's Fund responds to the Queen's Speech

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Today's Queen's Speech contained the announcement of a Health and Social Care Bill, which will create a new super-regulator to oversee health and social care in England with powers to fine hospitals and shut down wards. Commenting, Chief Executive of the King's Fund Niall Dickson said:

'The new Care Quality Commission is good news for patients. In spite of significant improvements in many aspects of care, there is still real concern about the safety and quality of some services. This is a sensible and constructive step to help build confidence in some of the most vital public services.

'However, we will still have to see the details. Given the wide range of providers covered by the new Commission it will be a challenge to find a set of common standards appropriate for both health and social care.

'The new regulator must have real powers to help drive up standards and protect the public from harm. At the same time it is important that regulation does not impose too great a burden that could result in adverse consequences for patients.'

The speech re-iterated the government's commitment to a Green Paper on social care. Niall Dickson added:

'It is extremely good to see that at last the government is committed to reforming the funding of social care. There is now the chance to make historic changes on the issue of long-term care, one of the greatest challenges facing this country.'

On plans to make direct payments to expectant mothers to spend on healthy food Niall Dickson noted:

'This is a silly proposal. The case for one-off payments to new mothers to get them to improve their diets is far from convincing, to say the least. Financial incentives can be effective but work best when payments are regular and sustained and when addressing simple health behaviours. Quite how a limited cash payment seven months into a pregnancy will have any impact on the health of the child or the mother is hard to see.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.