SoR responds to new government White Paper to reform NHS

Proposals aim to improve integration and efficiency of care services

Published: 11 February 2021 Government & NHS

The government has announced plans to reform the NHS and social care, aiming to cut bureaucracy and learn from the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new proposals will aim to join up health and care services, support recovery from the pandemic by stripping away unnecessary legislative bureaucracy, empowering local leaders and services and tackling health inequalities.

The government said the reforms would build on the NHS’ Long Term Plan proposals and a Bill will be laid in Parliament when parliamentary time allows to carry the proposals into law.

Chief executive of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens said the proposals for legislation ‘go with the grain of what patients and staff across the health service all want to see – more joined-up care, less legal bureaucracy and a sharper focus on prevention, inequality and social care.

SoR Chief Executive Richard Evans said major reorganisations of health and social care carried implications for patients and employees and it would be important to understand the detail of the proposals in the White Paper.

‘The health and social care workforce has shown enormous resilience, dedication and professionalism in response to the pandemic and of course we all continue to rely on each and every member to continue this amazing effort for the foreseeable future.

‘It is good that the innovations and lessons learned during the Coronavirus emergency are reported to be behind some of the changes in the White Paper. We also note that the proposals promise to reduce some of the frustrations and burdens on systems that came as a result of the last reforms in 2012.

‘The SoR will look carefully at the detail in the White Paper and we look forward to the opportunity to comment on behalf of members and the public.’

Key measures in the White Paper, ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’ include:

  • The NHS and local government to come together legally as part of integrated care systems to plan health and care services around their patients’ needs, and quickly implement innovative solutions to problems which would normally take years to fix, including moving services out of hospitals and into the community, focusing on preventative healthcare.
  • Hardworking NHS staff currently waste a significant amount of time on unnecessary tendering processes for healthcare services. Under the new proposals, the NHS will only need to tender services when it has the potential to lead to better outcomes for patients. This will mean staff can spend more time on patients and providing care, and local NHS services will have more power to act in the best interests of their communities.
  • The upcoming Bill will put the Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch permanently into law as a Statutory Body so it can continue to reduce risk and improve safety. The branch already investigates when things go wrong without blaming people, so that mistakes can be learned from, and this strengthens its legal footing.
  • A package of measures to deliver on specific needs in the social care sector. This will improve oversight and accountability in the delivery of services through new assurance and data sharing measures in social care, update the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge, and introduce improved powers for the Secretary of State to directly make payments  to adult social care providers where required.
  • The pandemic has shown the impact of inequalities on public health outcomes and the need for the government to act to help level up health across the country. Legislation will help to support the introduction of new requirements about calorie labelling on food and drink packaging and the advertising of junk food before the 9pm watershed.