Briefing: House of Commons debate on the address: Health, social care and security

The Queen’s Speech was delivered to parliament on 21 June 2017. Ahead of debates on the address on Wednesday 28 June in the House of Commons and Thursday 29 June in the House of Lords, The King’s Fund has produced this written briefing on the key issues for health and social care in the new parliament.

Key points

  • The adult social care system is failing older people, their families and carers and will face a £2.1 billion funding gap by 2019/20.
  • The government’s forthcoming consultation paper on social care should be substantial and wide-ranging, and must set out costed options to put the system on a sustainable footing for the future.
  • While there are significant opportunities to improve productivity in the NHS, services can no longer meet rising demand and maintain standards of care within current funding constraints and performance has deteriorated.
  • The amount we spend on health care as a proportion of GDP has fallen – the government must increase spending to provide the NHS with sufficient funding to address current spending pressures and support changes to services.
  • The health and social care workforce is under significant pressure, with widespread shortages and staff morale an increasing concern – this is being exacerbated by Brexit, with a huge fall in the number of nurse registrations from EU countries since the EU referendum.
  • Despite a difficult beginning, sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) offer the best hope of addressing the challenges facing the NHS and delivering the vision set out in the NHS five year forward view.
  • Politicians should support changes to hospital services set out in STPs where a clear clinical case has been made that they will benefit patients, even if these plans encounter local opposition.
  • We welcome the emphasis in the Queen’s Speech on mental health but parity of esteem will only become a reality when all the new funding promised reaches the front line, and mental health is given equal focus in developing new models of care.
  • Reductions in public health budgets are resulting in cuts to a wide range of services – this is a false economy, putting people’s health at risk now, storing up problems for the future and undermining STPs.
  • Politicians must be honest about the reforms needed and the funding required to provide health and care services to the standard the public expects, and the consequences if it is not economically and politically possible to deliver this.