2012 01 Health Care

Wednesday 1 February 2012

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The Health and Social Care Bill 2011 is still progressing through Parliament. The reforms have been described as an "unholy mess" by the medical profession and Andy Burnham for the opposition has proposed that the reforms be dropped in order that the NHS meet its targets for savings.

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.

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