Today in Parliament, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP announced a new white paper with sweeping reforms to the way the NHS is run.
The reforms will reduce bureaucracy and increase integration between the NHS and social care system, saving lives and improving health outcomes. A primary focus will be the overall health of the population, with a strong focus on prevention and overall public health.
The experience of the pandemic has demonstrated what works and what doesn’t in the health service, and the experience of nurses, doctors, and other staff have informed the shape of the reforms, which are built on over 2 years of work. By acting now, the government can make permanent some of the beneficial changes where COVID-19 has catalysed new and better ways of working and lay the foundations for the recruitment of 50,000 more nurses and the hospital building programme.
Decision making about local health matters will be taken at local levels, with local authorities and care providers being integrated as far as possible to ensure continuity of service and value for taxpayers. At the same time, Ministers will have greater accountability over health matters, ensuring that health matters are answerable to parliament in all cases.
Under the present system, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Hospital Trusts make decisions with little to no accountability, which has led to proposals that local people oppose. This has given rise to situations like the Future Fit proposals for Telford where the Government is unable to intervene even when the proposals are clearly unsatisfactory to residents and are unlikely to improve overall health outcomes.
Lucy Allan MP said:
“I warmly welcome this new white paper, which has been informed by the experiences of NHS workers throughout the pandemic. It is crucial that we see a change in how new proposals, such as Future Fit, can be forced through despite the concerns of local residents."
"I will continue to raise the Future Fit proposals with the Secretary of State as a prime example of where reform is needed. It is not acceptable that my constituents continue to live under the shadow of proposals that will outsource much of their emergency care to Shrewsbury, a smaller town with better health outcomes."
"I have come up against real institutional and bureaucratic hurdles to having Future Fit comprehensively revised under the current system, and the white paper announced today is the start of a process of reform that will ensure local concerns are heard."
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, said:
“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 build back better and 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.”
“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.”
Picture above: Lucy Allan MP with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP (pre-Covid)