Health and Social Care Bill

There has been so much written and spoken about this Bill and so many scare stories publicised that I am becoming increasingly concerned that those who depend on our NHS may start to believe some of the scare stories.

The Government believes in the NHS which is why the Government is guaranteeing it will always provide treatment when you need it regardless of the ability tp pay. Despite the need for the Country to start to live within its means because of the importance of the NHS the Government is increasing the resources available to the NHS. Spending on the NHS is being increased in real terms even though very difficult spending decisions are having to be taken in other departments.

The Bill shifts power to family doctors so they can obtain the best healthcare for their patients. The Bill scraps two layers of administrators ( the Strategic Health Authorities and the Primary Care Trusts) and the money they spend on health care will now go directly to groups of doctors. Doctors will decide how best to spend that money after discussing the matter with other health care professionals like nurses – These groups will be called Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s for short).

Doctors will be able to obtain the healthcare their patients need from the NHS and from other organisations but they must obtain the best treatment – not the cheapest – and the Bill encourages doctors to give their patients more choice. My view is that when someone is ill as long as their doctor is able to obtain the treatment they need to make them better it matters little to them whether that treatment is provided by someone employed directly by the NHS or someone else who is paid for by the NHS. Either way what matters to the patient is they get the best care they can and it is free at the point of need.

The new Bill also seeks to join up provision at a local level. Health and Well Being Boards will be set up which will bring together local healthcare providers from the NHS together with social care providers from the Council and those concerned about public health (in other words those concerned about trying to stop people becoming ill in the first place). All these groups will come together to make sure there is a joined up way of people healthy and making those have fallen ill better.

It is easy to forget that it was the last Labour Government that provided for private companies to provide healthcare for NHS patients. This Bill puts the NHS, not-for-profit organisations, charities and private sector health companies on the same footing.

For the first time the bill places a statutory duty on the NHS to reduce health inequalities. In 2005 the British Medical Journal said ‘The difference between life expectancy of the richest and poorest in our country is now greater than at any time since Queen Victoria’s reign’ and under the last Labour government the gap grew. The new Bill will make it law that the NHS must work together with others ( such as the local councils) to make sure people everywhere get the same level of care.

More information about the action the Government is taking to modernise our NHS can be found here