UK proposes NHS and social care reforms to deliver ‘higher quality care’


THE UK released a white paper on Thursday(11) to modernise the legal framework to make the health and care system fit for the future and put in place targeted improvements for the delivery of public health and social care.

It will support local health and care systems to deliver higher quality care to their communities, in a less legally bureaucratic and more accountable, a statement said.

The proposals build on the NHS’ recommendations for legislative change in the Long Term Plan and come a decade on from the last major piece of health and care legislation.

A Bill regarding this will be laid before Parliament later in the year, the statement added.

According to a statement, the reforms will enable the health and care sector to use technology in a modern way, establishing it as a better platform to support staff and patient care, by improving the quality and availability of data across the health and care sector to enable systems to plan for the future care of their communities.

It will also tackle health inequalities through measures to address obesity, oral health and patient choice.

“The NHS and local government have long been calling for better integration and less burdensome bureaucracy, and this virus has made clear the time for change is now. These changes will allow us to bottle the innovation and ingenuity of our brilliant staff during the pandemic, where progress was made despite the legal framework, rather than because of it,” said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.

“The proposals build on what the NHS has called for and will become the foundations for a health and care system which is more integrated, more innovative and responsive, and more ready to respond to the challenges of tomorrow, from health inequalities to our ageing population.”

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Our legislative proposals go with the grain of what patients and staff across the health service all want to see – more joined-up care, less legal bureaucracy and a sharper focus on prevention, inequality and social care.

“This legislation builds on the past seven years of practical experience and experimentation across the health service and the flexible ‘can-do’ spirit NHS staff have shown in spades throughout the pandemic.”

The NHS and local government to come together legally as part of integrated care systems to plan health and care services around their patients’ needs, and quickly implement innovative solutions, including moving services out of hospitals and into the community, focusing on preventative healthcare.

According to new proposals, the NHS will only need to tender services when it has the potential to lead to better outcomes for patients. Hence staff can spend more time on patients and providing care, and local NHS services will have more power to act in the best interests of their communities.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the academy of medical royal colleges said: “We welcome the central proposals to drive integration and support greater collaboration through integrated care systems (ICS), that go beyond the traditional NHS boundaries. This is absolutely the right direction of travel for health and care more widely.”

Besides, the government will bring forward separate proposals on social care reform later this year.

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