Health and Care Bill receives Royal Assent
The College was active in shaping the Health and Care Act, which received Royal Assent four weeks ago.
The Government introduced the Health and Care Bill last year to change how the NHS is run in England.
The Bill built on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, such as establishing existing Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) on a statutory footing, as well the Government’s own proposals within the Integration and Innovation White Paper.
The College’s campaign
As the Bill progressed through Parliament, we successfully campaigned for several changes to the legislation. This included emphasising parity of esteem for mental health and increasing transparency of mental health funding.
As a result, the Government committed to greater representation of mental health interests on Integrated Care Boards (ICBs).
Following a campaign by the College, alongside other Mental Health Policy Group organisations, the Government agreed that each ICB must include at least one member with expertise and knowledge of mental health. The Bill also now stipulates that the NHS and ICBs have to be clear about how much is being spent on mental health, and the proportion of total spending it represents.
The College also played a part in supporting Baroness Hollins’ amendment that led to a government commitment to introduce mandatory training on learning disability and autism for the health and care workforce.
Unfortunately, the Bill passed without a critical workforce amendment that the College and over 100 other organisations campaigned for. The amendment would have required the Secretary of State to produce a report every two years setting out the number of doctors, nurses, and social care staff we need now and in the future.
Despite over 350 members emailing their MP asking them to support it, the House of Commons rejected the original amendment and a second compromise amendment.
The campaign, however, successfully increased the profile of workforce as an issue amongst parliamentarians. It also led, in part, to the Government commissioning Health Education England to refresh their 15-year strategic framework for working planning and commissioning NHS England to produce a medium-term workforce strategy
As the Bill comes into force as an Act we will continue to campaign for a long-term and evidence-based approach to plan for the needs of the health and care workforce.
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