The RCP has produced a briefing for parliamentarians ahead of the Health and Care Bill report stage on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 November 2021. The Health and Care Bill seeks to put Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) on statutory footing, following the health and care white paper and an NHS England consultation.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) supports the general direction of travel but there are several missed opportunities on workforce, health inequalities and research that should be strengthened in the bill.
The RCP is supporting Amendment 10 to establish greater accountability and transparency on workforce planning. Over 60 health and care organisations support this amendment to ensure the secretary of state must publish independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers every 2 years consistent with Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) projections. Strengthened workforce planning is crucial to the ability of the NHS to deliver better integrated care. A dedicated briefing on Amendment 10 and the full list of supportive organisations is available on the RCP website.
The RCP also believes the triple aim should be amended so that it explicitly references health inequalities. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated health inequalities that have long existed in our society. Making health inequalities an explicit part of the triple aim would mean the impact of decisions on health inequalities would need to be considered by NHS England (NHSE), Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and Trusts.
We are also asking MPs to support New Clause 57 (NC57) to give NHS England a statutory duty to publish guidance for NHS bodies on collecting, analysing, reporting and publishing data on factors or indicators relevant to health inequalities.
Following the success of the COVID-19 vaccine, the bill is also an opportunity to prioritise clinical research and cement the UK’s place as a global leader in that space. The current duty for ICBs to promote research should be strengthened so that the bodies for which ICBs are responsible have a duty to ‘conduct’ research.
We have also supported amendments on tobacco control and smoking led by ASH which are in line with the recommendations to the government from the APPG on Smoking and Health’s most recent report.