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Government reforms could improve care services for patients

14 May 2021

A Report by the Health and Social Care Committee into Government reforms of the NHS and social care is supportive of proposals, subject to accountability mechanisms on the safety and quality of care being built into legislation.

The inquiry into the White Paper, Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care concluded that that the creation of Integrated Care Systems throughout England has the potential to improve the delivery of care services for patients.

The Report welcomes a commitment from the Secretary of State to act on the Committee’s suggestion to include in the Bill provisions for independent ratings of the ICSs, to be carried out by the Care Quality Commission.

MPs also call for a more detailed framework that sets out the roles and responsibilities of both the NHS Body and the Health and Care Partnership, with clear lines of accountability to ensure success.

On social care, the Committee urges that new legislation should impose a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a 10-year plan with detailed costings, within 6 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

Funding should be at the levels set out by the Committee in its Social care: funding and workforce Report. The absence of a fully funded plan for social care has the potential to destabilise Integrated Care Systems and undermine their success, and without secure long term funding problems that have bedevilled the care sector for decades would not be resolved, say MPs.

Chair's comment

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said:

“We broadly support the proposed changes provided the new Integrated Care Systems are held accountable for the quality and safety of care delivered through transparent CQC assessments. But we remain concerned about glaring omissions, including the lack of social care reform, and a much-needed overhaul of workforce planning.

“If such issues are addressed the government has an opportunity to deliver a post-pandemic watershed '1948 moment' for the health and care system, matching the significance of the year the NHS was founded. But if they are not, it will be a wasted opportunity to deliver the truly integrated care required by an ageing population.”

Further information

Image: PA