Society Statement: Health and Social Care Bill
Following the final approval of the bill by the House of Commons, Society President Dr Carole Allan said:
"Despite an unprecedented level of opposition from many organisations the Health and Social Care Bill has now passed into law. We recognise it is important to build on the strength of feeling for the NHS that is more clearly evident than ever before. The next stage is to engage and work with government and key stakeholders to ensure that we provide the best possible quality of services."
The Health and Social Care Bill was debated again on Tuesday 13 March in Parliament. The Society is still concerned that the proposed changes will not deliver improvements to patient care.
We have argued that integrated care and better coordination between services offers the most promising approach to meeting the key challenges facing the NHS-demographic changes in the form of an ageing population and supporting the increasing number of people with long term physical and psychological conditions.
Dr Ben Goldacre, on his blog, has provided a summary of what organisations - including the Society - have to say about the Bill.
In February the Society’s President Dr Carole Allan wrote to Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, to reiterate the Society’s concerns and explain that as a result of these concerns the Society does not support the Health and Social Care Bill in its current form.
In its response to the Government’s NHS modernisation ‘listening exercise’, the Society expressed major concerns at the implications of the Health and Social Care Bill. The BPS believes that there is scope to streamline commissioning arrangements and enhance clinical input. However, the Society is concerned about the potential loss of expertise from existing commissioners. Moreover, the BPS believes that all the relevant professions, including Psychologists, should be represented on new commissioning bodies, and not be solely drawn from General Practitioners.
Dr Allan said: “The Society remains committed to working with the Government on NHS reform. We are pleased that some of the concerns we have raised are addressed by the proposed amendments to the Bill. However, we have a number of outstanding concerns that have not yet been resolved and for this reason I have written personally to Andrew Lansley to reiterate our remaining concerns and explain that as a result of these concerns the BPS does not support the Bill in its current form”.
The Chair of the NHS listening exercise, Professor Sir Steve Field, spoke at the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology’s Annual conference in December 2011. He stated that proposals to broaden the expertise, including psychological professionals within commissioning consortia, have also come from a wide range of health service groups and have now been reflected within a number of amendments to the Bill.
However whilst the Society welcomes many of the proposed amendments to the Bill, significant outstanding concerns remain.
In the Society’s response to the NHS listening exercise last year it was highlighted that patients frequently have complex medical and psychological needs, and require services that work together both within and across organisational boundaries. Consequently, the Society stated a view that Monitor should not have a duty to promote competition as an end in itself. Instead Monitor should have an obligation to promote the provision of high-quality, and equitable care which may mean ensuring that there is effective collaboration between providers in addition to any appropriately managed competition.