RCP responds to Committee report on NHS legislative proposals

The Commons Health and Social Care Committee have published a report on its inquiry into the legislative proposals set out by NHS England to support the implementation of the Long Term Plan.

Following the publication of the Long Term Plan, NHS England has been consulting on proposals for possible changes to primary legislation to support its implementation. The proposed changes set out to promote collaboration and move away from the current competitive framework created by the Competition and Markets Authority’s powers to review NHS mergers.

It also looks at ways to challenge barriers to integration, particularly across different organisations such as CCGs and local authorities. In addition, the proposals encourage greater intervention by NHS arm’s length bodies (ALBs) to enable wider collaborations by establishing new powers for the Secretary of State to transfer.

Today, the Commons Health and Social Care Committee published a report on its inquiry into the legislative proposals, which the RCP submitted written evidence to. The report broadly supports many of the suggestions, but fails to recognise a key opportunity to clarify roles and responsibilities for workforce planning as well as accountability for workforce planning.

In response to the Committee’s report, Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president said:

'As the Committee rightly points out, the legislative proposals present an opportunity to move away from the challenges created by current competition framework, toward a more collaborative one. A small but significant step which will help create a system which empowers NHS staff to deliver ever higher quality care for patients.

Importantly the report calls for further detail on how giving the Secretary of State powers to transfer functions from one arm’s-length body (ALB) to another will improve joined up care and value for patients. It’s vital that clarity is provided before these proposals are taken any further. 

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president.

'Importantly the report calls for further detail on how giving the Secretary of State powers to transfer functions from one arm’s-length body (ALB) to another will improve joined up care and value for patients. It’s vital that clarity is provided before these proposals are taken any further. 

'While these legislative proposals are right to focus on learning from the past, and supporting the fulfilment of the long term plan, we remain concerned that one of the key elements has been forgotten. These proposals are an opportunity to create a legislative framework which clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the different ALBs. They must have policy levers in place to ensure that the NHS has the workforce strategy and resources required.

'However, it is not solely the responsibility of ALBs to make sure that the NHS has the workforce supply required to meet the needs of the population. We would reiterate our call that the legislative changes present an opportunity to introduce a specific duty for the Secretary of State to ensure that our health and care services have an adequate supply of staff. The RCP is therefore calling for the development of a national accountability framework, to complement and support local health systems to plan and deliver for their local population.'