Last week the Department of Health and Social Care published its much-awaited White Paper on the future of healthcare in England, ‘Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’, which above all, seeks to integrate care, reduce bureaucracy, and strengthen accountability. The White Paper reflects upon lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to embed learnings, particularly around some of the new and improved ways of working.
In his Ministerial Statement to the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the reforms are based on the principle of population health and will deliver a more integrated, innovative, and responsive system, one that harnesses the power of modern technology and is flexible in its adoption, allowing decision-makers to focus on patient needs, unencumbered by bureaucratic constraints. Hancock boldly set out his belief in the power of a renewed legislative framework to realise these aims.
The reforms seek to reverse large parts of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and have been largely welcomed across the health sector, particularly the focus on increased collaboration and integration and the move away from competition and internal markets. There are however a number of concerns, including around the timing of reform, given the huge pressures on the NHS and the growing backlog of care, and a perceived “power grab” by the Government, with measures controversially granting the Secretary of State greater control over system functioning.
The Health Tech Alliance’s full briefing covering the key reforms can be found here.
Commenting on the report, Health Tech Alliance Chair Dame Barbara Hakin said: “We welcome today’s White Paper which will help encourage continued collaboration and deliver more joined-up care for patients. The proposals build on the tremendous efforts of NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the practical experience of the past few years. We look forward to working with the Government and the NHS to ensure HealthTech innovation continues to have a key role to play as these proposals take shape.”