Health debate on the Queen’s speech

This briefing has been produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) ahead of the House of Commons health debate on the Queen’s speech on 28 June 2017.

The RCP welcomes the government’s commitments in the Queen’s speech to introduce a draft patient safety bill, update mental health legislation and consult on reform of social care provision. However, it is however concerning that the government did not use this opportunitiy to address some of the wider issues facing the delivery of healthcare such as the regulation of physician associates. 

Furthermore, it is vital that Brexit negotiations do not overshadow the important decisions that still need to be made for the future of the NHS and its potential impact on patient care. This includes addressing staff shortages and tackling pressures from preventable illnesses like obesity.

Summary

The RCP calls on the government to ensure that patient care is at the heart of Brexit negotiations:

  • The government must ensure Brexit does not exacerbate existing workforce shortages given that, in 2016, 45% of advertised consultant posts were not appointed to because there were no applicants.
  • The government must provide reassurance for doctors from EU member states that they will be able to remain after the UK leaves the EU.
  • The UK is a net beneficiary of research funding from the EU. The government must therefore negotiate continued access to EU research funding or provide equivalent funding for research to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in medical research.
  • Clarify how the adoption of EU regulations into UK statute will impact on medical research, to reduce uncertainty and confusion within the research sector.

The RCP calls on the government to address the wider challenges facing the health service and:

  • introduce legislation to provide statutory regulation of physician associates
  • adequately resource vital public health services
  • tackle the obesity epidemic by implementing the Obesity Health Alliance’s (OHA) manifesto asks
  • take national action on tackling the harmful impact of alcohol by introducing a minimum unit price
  • introduce a clean air act that will improve the quality of the air we breathe
  • tackle the harmful effects of smoking by introducing a new national tobacco control plan.

Contact

For more information about this briefing, please email Methela Haque, RCP public affairs adviser: methela.haque@rcplondon.ac.uk.