More Health bill revelations…

Posted on April 5, 2011 by

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Yesterday the media was abuzz with speculation that the health bill – currently between committee stage and report stage in the House of Commons – is going to be delayed. Andrew Lansley made a statement to the House confirming the speculation.

I can therefore tell the House that we propose to take the opportunity of a natural break in the passage of the Bill to pause, listen and engage with all those who want the NHS to succeed, and subsequently to bring forward amendments to improve the plans further in the normal way.

We should hear a bit more about this ‘listening exercise’ on Thursday when David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley are due to make an announcement at a joint event. At the moment, it looks like the report stage in the Commons is likely to be delayed until mid-June, probably only a few weeks later than it might have been scheduled in anyway around recess etc. (the house is rising today for the Easter break, returning in three weeks on Tuesday 26 April and there is another break at the end of May)

23 suggested amendments to the bill drawn up by a group of Liberal Democrats aiming to bring the proposals in line with their party policy have been published. Many of these have implications for our concerns over research. Research capacity even gets a small direct look in in number 14, touching on a concern that the changes could lead to a loss of expertise which was voiced in an article a few weeks back – Creeping privatisation of NHS will mean loss of expertise, say top doctors

14. Commissioning to be governed by a requirement/duty on Commissioners, when considering contracting with any new provider – or offering the choice of a new provider – to be satisfied that broader service stability is safeguarded and that cherry-picking and cream-skimming are avoided:
The matters which must be safeguarded are
a) The financial viability of remaining NHS services (unless there is an explicit transparent proposal to close a service)
b) Adequate case-load to maintain clinical competence and effective organisation of care for any remaining NHS services including emergency services, rescue services, complex cases, education and training needs, and clinical research capacity
c) The maintenance and promotion of clinical networks.
d) The integration of care pathways and the integration of health and social care

These are one of many groups pushing for amendments to the bill.

What next?

We’ll probably hear more on Thursday about how the government plans to “pause, listen and engage” and discuss possible changes to the bill over the next few weeks. Any changes they plan to make they will probably bring by government amendment to the Bill at Commons report stage.

For research, this is an opportunity to keep getting engaged and ensure any big changes build research into the system. We’ll be looking closely at opportunities to feed in.

Posted in: Policy