Plans for NHS reform published

Few surprises as Government announces plans to increase central control in order to “improve accountability”. The proposed changes follow-through on a speech last July setting out the case for reform delivered by Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The new plans seek to redress deficiencies of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which had intended to increase NHS efficiency by empowering senior managers and curtailing the powers of the Secretary of State to enforce operational decisions.

In the end, ministers remained politically accountable for decisions over which they had no control - and in light of the Covid pandemic, the response of the system was seen to be slow and bureaucratic. The thinking is that as has been demonstrated in the vaccine roll-out, targets from Ministers are necessary to spur the system to be responsive and accountable.

The new reforms include a number of changes that focus on the better use of data to coordinate provision, understand need, and evaluate innovative medical procedures and treatments.

Reform highlights:

  • England to deliver greater integration of health and social care through an Integrated Care System network - bringing together NHS bodies, local government and other organisations.

  • A requirement for health and adult social care organisations to share anonymised information where such sharing would benefit the health and social care system.

  • Health and Social Care Secretary able to require data from all registered adult social care providers about all services they provide.

  • Care Quality Commission to assess local authorities’ delivery of adult social care services, and reserved powers for the Secretary of State to intervene where it is considered that a local authority is failing to meet their responsibilities.

  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to develop and maintain publicly funded and operated medicine registries in order to provide the NHS with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions.

  • Every five years the Secretary of State to publish the roles and responsibilities for workforce planning and supply in England.

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