Responding to the Queen’s Speech, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The Government’s proposals laid out today are to be welcomed and are a step in the right direction in helping to redress some of the damage that has been wrought not just on the health service but on the whole population during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The NHS has faced an unprecedented battle over the past year and has at times come very close to breaking point, so the announcement of additional funding will go some way to addressing the impact of the pandemic. However, the detail of this investment will be crucial, and we will await further clarification in the coming months and as part of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”
Need for urgent social care reform
Danny Mortimer, who is also chair of the Health for Care Coalition, said: “Nearly two years ago, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, delivering his first speech, promised the nation that his Government would finally address decades of delay and ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. Yet two years into his premiership, this promise has failed to materialise.
“It is disappointing and disheartening that the Government has once again kicked the issue into the long grass, which means the very real risk that no real progress will now be made on this issue during this Parliament. Social care reform is desperately required, and we need a timetable for reform now, not at some distant future point, and this must be coupled with significant long-term investment.
“The NHS and social care are sister services – if one suffers so does the other – and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile and in dire need of reform England’s social care system has become. A well-funded and good quality social care sector is vital to a healthy nation and a strong and well-performing NHS; reform must no longer be delayed.”
Levelling up and training opportunities
“The Government’s focus on investing to redress health inequalities and on mental health are to be welcomed. Increased investment in government-funded training for all adults will also be welcome news to employers.
“As the nation’s largest employer the NHS recognises that it has a vital part to play in supporting the government’s focus on skills and broadening access to education. Our members look forward to working with the government and local colleges and universities to help the government realise its ambitions. Providing more flexibility in training and education pathways will help prepare even more talented people for a career in the NHS.
“We also welcome the Government’s legislative proposals setting out plans for the Health and Care Bill as already detailed in the White Paper published earlier this year and further outlined today.
“These are the most significant set of reforms the health service seen for ten years and there is much support for them. We anticipate that they will help frontline services and our members to move towards a model of fully joined up patient care.
“However, any reforms will need to allow local NHS and care leaders to lead and should also be delivered at a realistic pace, dictated at a local level. Those in charge of running community-based health and care services are those that are best placed to understand the needs of their communities, while also being accountable to parliament and the wider public.
“There will be much to work through in the coming months, and we look forward to fleshing out the detail of these legislative changes.
“There are many complex challenges facing health and care which include tackling the waiting list backlog and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, bringing care closer to patients’ homes and tackling health inequalities, all of which will require even closer collaboration and integration over the months and years to come.
“We hope that the forthcoming Health and Care bill will present a real opportunity to reset what is already an overly centralised national system and create more opportunities to let local leaders lead.”
Mental Health Act legislation
“It has been clear for some time that the Mental Health Act desperately needs modernising and we look forward to continuing to engage with the process towards legislation.
“Implementing the new legislation will have significant funding implications for the NHS, local authorities and the tribunal service. Our members look forward to implementing the legislation and wider commitments but will need the sufficient resource to do this successfully.
“We must ensure that those who are in crisis receive the care they need and that any gaps in mental health care provision in terms of inequalities in access and outcomes are eradicated.”