New legislation designed to deliver an integrated health and social care system has been introduced to Parliament.
The Health and Care Bill is being presented to Parliament to carry proposals put forward by the government in February into law.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The astonishing response of our health and care services to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit fast-forward on some of the bold changes the NHS set out to deliver in its Long Term Plan and shone the spotlight on other areas that require change to achieve better care for our communities.
“To help meet demand, build a better health service and bust the backlog, we need to back the NHS, as it celebrates its 73rd birthday this week, and embed lessons learned from the pandemic. This will support our health and care services to be more integrated and innovative so the NHS can deliver for people in the decades to come.”
The Bill will ensure each part of England has an Integrated Care Board and an Integrated Care Partnership responsible for bringing together local NHS and local government, such as social care, mental health services and public health advice, to deliver joined up care for its local population.
The DSHC said clinicians, carers and public health experts would be empowered to operate collaboratively across health and care, as part of plans to tackle inequalities and level up health across the country. The Bill will also introduce measures to tackle obesity and improve oral health.
Additionally, the DHSC said the Bill is designed to remove unnecessary bureaucracy that has held the health service back so that health and care staff can focus on patients, not paperwork, and ensure the system is able to flex to changing needs in the years to come.
Measures to deliver on the specific needs of the social care sector, include improving oversight and accountability in the delivery of services through new assurance and data sharing measures in social care, updating the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge, and introducing improved powers for the Secretary of State to directly make payments to adult social care providers where required.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England, said: “As the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, Care England has identified five main areas where the Health and Care Bill needs to be bolstered in order to assist real integration between health and social care.
“Firstly, adult social care providers, for profit and not for profit, need to be directly represented on ICS NHS and Partnership Boards. Secondly, there must be a ten year workforce plan that addresses adult social care. Thirdly, the framework around assessment of local authorities to be subject to consultation and moreover created as well as co-produced by providers. Fourthly, every ICS needs to fulfil a certain level of awareness and understanding of adult social care.
“Lastly, social care plans need to be produced by the Prime Minister before ICS’ come into effect. Care England will be working with Parliamentarians as the Bill makes progress through both Houses of Parliament. Furthermore our vision, We Care for England, to be published later in the month will provide the Government with a plan as to how to deliver sustainable long term reform for the sector.”