The new Health and Care Bill has received Royal Assent by Her Majesty The Queen, enacting the legislation into law.
The new Act, introduced to help tackle the Covid backlogs and ‘rebuild’ health and social care services from the pandemic, also provides measures to tackle health disparities and create ‘safer,’ more joined-up services.
Under the new Act, there are a number of initiatives to help bridge the gap in national health inequalities, such as ensuring the health and social care workforce have the right skills and knowledge to provide informed care to people with autism and people with a learning disability, by making specialised training mandatory by law; and levelling up health disparities in oral health and obesity.
Additionally, the Act makes safeguarding provisions for women and girls, and supports abuse victims by responding to recent child safeguarding tragedies. The Act focuses on information sharing in relation to the safeguarding of children, requiring Integrated ICBs to set out any proposed steps to address the needs of victims of abuse.
The approved bill also proposes change from within the health and care sector by setting out the parity of mental and physical health and ensuring for ‘transparency’ around the spending allocated to mental health support; addressing barriers to joined up working, by supporting data sharing between health and social care and removing barriers in the hospital discharge process; and supporting the government’s adult social care reforms, by creating the ‘right’ framework for assuring, funding and sharing data on social care.
Other measures under the act include making services safer by establishing the Health Services Safety Investigations Body – an independent public body that will investigate incidents which have implications for patient safety – and ensuring the NHS is ‘fully’ accountable to parliament and the public, while maintaining the NHS’s clinical and day-to-day operational independence.
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive, NHS, commented: “The Covid pandemic has shown what can be achieved when we work together across NHS teams, organisations and systems with our partners in the care sector and beyond, and these reforms will help us to deliver for patients and their families.”
To read more about the new bill, please click here.