Unveiling the Government’s plans, the Queen announced plans to bring forward legislation to “empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology. Patients will receive more tailored and preventative care, closer to home [Health and Care Bill]. Measures will be brought forward to support the health and wellbeing of the nation, including to tackle obesity and improve mental health. Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward.”
As always the devil is in the detail and readers might like to dip into the briefing notes (pages 16-29 cover Beating Covid and Backing the NHS).
We are told that “the Government is committed to improving the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals in 2021”.
The Prime Minister said “Later in the year we will bring forward proposals to reform adult social care so that every person receives the dignity and security they deserve”.
This is a huge disappointment to many, particularly given the fact that we are already in May.
Social care was tucked in underneath the heading of Beating Covid and Backing the NHS in the briefing notes…..
A number of social care organisations have expressed concern and disappointment that meaningful social care reform has been “kicked into the long grass” with the absence of a Social Care Bill. Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England said it was a missed opportunity, explaining that “the Health and Care Bill which has a focus on the NHS, is not the vehicle to deliver...the system change to ensure the future sustainability of the [care] sector”.
The National Care Forum published, ahead of today’s state opening of Parliament, an eight-point plan for reform of social care calling on the Government to put social care at the centre of policy planning and design a social care system that is person centred, fair and fit for the future. It calls on investment in the workforce, future proofing social care with measures to encourage innovation and digital transformation, with technology a key element in the reform plans. Its eighth point is a commitment to ensure integrated health and care systems work for social care.
Health and Care Bill
Our previous blogs and briefings have covered this extensively. Five main benefits of the Bill and four main elements are set out in the briefing notes.
With a new Health and Care Bill planned for the sector, there is a commitment to include regulatory oversight of how social care is commissioned and delivered.
The Government says that it will respond to the recent consultation on reform to the Mental Health Act later this year, which will “pave the way for future legislation.” We know that the consultation itself said that a Bill would be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows” so will that be 2022?
Finally, putting the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch on a statutory footing to deliver a fully independent national body to investigate healthcare incidents. For the history and background to this you can read our earlier blogs here and here.
Specific mention is made of embracing technology. That makes our current series of webinars highly topical! Mills & Reeve and ORCHA are presenting a series of interactive online webinars on health, wellbeing and medical device apps covering key legal, regulatory and commercial issues. You can register your interest here.
What do you think?