Friday, 21 January 2011

Health and Social Care Bill looks to encourage further competition in the NHS

[caption id="attachment_711" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley"][/caption]

The much anticipated Health and Social Care Bill was published on Wednesday. The Publication came as confirmation of many plans the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, laid out in his white paper last Summer and the ensuing consultations appeared to have made little difference to his intentions.

This is the first reading of the Bill by the House of Commons, so there's still a long way to go before it comes to pass.

Speaking to Radio 4 before th Bill was published on Tuesday, Mr Lansley said the "‘invariable rule’ would be that patients have better information, greater access to their records and greater opportunity to be involved in and influence the decisions made about their care: ‘This means we move away from a world where in effect the articulate and pushy negotiate their way to the care they get."

The key points of the bill are:

  • All Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) are to be abolished by 2013, with the intention of cutting bureaucracy and reducing the over-abundance of 'administrators'.

  • GP Consortia will be formed throughout England and will have responsibility for commissioning healthcare for their communities. They will have control over 80% of the NHS budget.

  • All hospitals in England will be encouraged to take on 'foundation trust' status. This will make them more autonomous, with less ties to Government, and allow them to make a profit, should they so wish. Private firms will also be able to take over the running of these hospitals and tender for health service commissions.

  • Accountability and transparency will increase, with the formation of Healthwatch. This will be an independent body which will keep track of providers' performance and follow up on complaints.

  • Another new body, Public Health England, will be created. This will oversee and support the transition of responsibility for Public Health, from the NHS to Local Councils.

From our point of view, it's still not clear just exactly how much responsibility the new GP Consortia will have for delivering Social Marketing. We presume a large part will be via Public Health England, and hence, through Councils, but if anyone has any further insight on this, we'd be very grateful to hear from you in the comments below.

Read the Health and Social Care bill in full here.

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