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Have your say on the Health and Care Bill

15 July 2021

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Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Health and Care Bill 2021-22, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 7 September. Written evidence can now be sent in to the Public Bill Committee. The Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 2 November. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 2 November. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

Aims of the Bill

The Bill would enact policies set out in the NHS’s recommendations for legislative reform, following the NHS Long Term Plan (January 2019), and the White Paper, Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all (February 2021).

The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated, and that it has incorporated lessons learnt from the pandemic.

The Bill also contains provisions to support social care, public health and quality and safety in the NHS. The Government says these provisions are designed to address specific problems or remove barriers to delivery and to “maximise opportunities for improvement

What does the Bill do?

Several provisions in the Bill were originally proposed by NHS England, such as establishing existing Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) on a statutory footing, formally merging NHS England and NHS Improvement, and making changes to procurement and competition rules relating to health services.

The Bill also includes proposals from the February 2021 White Paper to give the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care powers to direct NHS England and to decide how some other health services are organised. It gives the Secretary of State powers to transfer functions between some of the ‘Arm’s Length Bodies’ that lead, support and regulate healthcare services in England, and to intervene in proposed changes to the way health services are delivered.

The Bill doesn’t cover wider reforms of the social care and public health systems, although it does provide for some changes in these areas (and ICSs are intended to improve coordination between the NHS and local authority services).

Social care and public health provisions

For social care, the Bill provides for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to assess how local authorities deliver their adult social care functions and it aims to improve data sharing.

There are also measures to streamline how people with ongoing care needs are discharged from hospitals. Public health measures in the Bill relate to food advertising and water fluoridation.

Safety investigation and other measures

The Bill would establish the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch as a statutory body, and make changes to the system of medical examiners.

These measures were previously introduced in the Health Services Safety Investigations Bill [HL Bill 4] in October 2019 and earlier draft legislation in 2017.

Other matters covered by the Bill include the regulation of healthcare and associated professionals, the introduction of medical examiners, the collection and sharing of data (including measures to support the development of new medicine registries), international healthcare, the regulation of advertising of unhealthy food and drink, hospital food standards, and fluoridation of water supplies.

The Bill contains 135 clauses (grouped into six parts), with 16 Schedules, and makes changes to several existing Acts, most notably the National Health Service Act 2006 and the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Follow the progress of the Health and Care Bill

The Health and Care Bill 2021–22 was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 July 2021. This Bill was debated at second reading on Wednesday 14 July 2021 and has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee which will scrutinise the Bill line by line and is expected to report to the House by Tuesday 2 November 2021.

Oral evidence sessions are expected to be held on Tuesday 7 and Thursday 9 September.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 7 September. Written evidence can now be sent in to the Public Bill Committee. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be Tuesday 7 September and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 2 November. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 2 November. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.

Image: Parliamentary Copyright

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