Health and Social Care Bill 2011. The Health and Social Care Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on the 11 September 2011.
The Bill allows for:
- Primary Care Trusts to be scrapped, with commissioning responsibilities and budgets passing to GPs;
- stronger regulation of the NHS, which policy will include the strengthening of the powers of the Care Quality Commission;
- an increased social enterprise presence in healthcare, giving NHS employees more of a say in how services are run;
- the establishment of an independent NHS Commissioning Board, which will take some responsibilities from Strategic Health Authorities and limit Ministers' powers to make day-to-day decisions about the NHS;
- more power to be granted to patients, who will be given a greater choice of services and freer access to their health records;
- central targets to be scrapped, in favour of more clinical means of monitoring healthcare outcomes
- the scrapping of health quangos and a reduction in NHS bureaucracy.
The coalition partners support the Bill, which includes measures from both of their election manifestos. Labour opposes the Tory policy of restructuring the NHS to place budgets in the hands of GPs, noting that the coalition agreement specifically promised not to implement a top-down reorganisation of the NHS.
To read the King’s Fund briefings, response and amendments to the Bill click here.
UNISON opposes the Bill, and has even gone so far as to question the legality of the manner in which the measures were initially implemented. The King's Fund, the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Heart Foundation have all cautiously welcomed the Bill's commitment to giving more power to patients and GPs. Prior to the Bill's re-commital to public bill committee though the overwhelming response to the details of the Bill was one of strong criticism. It is anticipated the Bill will receive Royal Assent in October 2011.