The RCP has welcomed publication of government plans for new NHS legislation in England, which would begin to be implemented in 2022 if passed into law.
The white paper, which followed an NHS England consultation that the RCP responded to earlier this year, proposes that integrated care systems are given legal status to enable closer working across health and care and a more joined-up patient experience. It also proposes that the Secretary of State takes greater accountability for workforce planning, with a duty to publish a report each Parliament outlining workforce planning at a national, regional and local level.
Commenting on the white paper, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said:
“The shift from ‘competition’ to a focus on ‘collaboration’ in law will be welcomed by NHS clinicians. The recognition of the importance of workforce planning is also crucial – no long-term problem our health and care system faces will be solved until we tackle our workforce shortages.
“The implications of these proposals will be far reaching, so ongoing consultation with the health and care sector is key. It is essential that policymakers consider carefully how changes are communicated to NHS staff, many of whom are exhausted after the last 12 months and understandably wary of a major reorganisation.
“Specific plans to tackle obesity through calorie labelling and restrictions on advertising are what we have been calling for through the Obesity Health Alliance. These positive measures however need to be part of a broader government strategy to address health inequalities.
“Legislation is only one part of the solution too. Much will as always come down to committed clinicians working in their local areas to deliver better care for their patients”.