Exclusive The new Health and Social Care Bill will ‘do away with’ unnecessary bureaucracy, with GPs to play a ‘crucial role’ in delivering the Government’s vision, according to the primary care minister.
Writing in an exclusive opinion piece for Pulse, health minister Jo Churchill said the Bill, which is due for its second reading in Parliament today, ‘will support better collaboration between health services, social care, local authorities, and public health and do away with unnecessary bureaucracy’.
She stressed this comes as GPs have already played a ‘vital’ part in developing the integrated care systems (ICSs) that are due to take over commissioning power from CCGs when the Bill comes into force, and would be ‘central’ to the Bill’s future success.
She added: ‘GPs will play a crucial role in delivering on our vision, not just in providing care to your patients but because you have a unique understanding of your local communities. You are a key part of what this Bill represents and primary care continues to be at the very forefront of our work to level up health inequalities across the country.’
She also stressed she is ‘incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of GPs and their teams’ during the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccination drive.
The minister wrote: ‘We protected the NHS to make sure it was there for everyone who needed care and I am incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of GPs and their teams, Primary Care Networks, community pharmacy, community health teams and dental teams, who have kept serving patients throughout the pandemic.’
She especially highlighted that ‘there have been over 309 million appointments to get vaccines in arms while also treating patients for other health concerns’.
And she added: We want to help make your lives easier and support you as we learn to live with the virus, so you can deliver the best care possible to your patients without being bogged down with unnecessary paperwork or hurdles.’
The Health and Care Bill 2021-22 proposals, first published in a white paper in February, will see ICSs placed on a statutory footing so they become responsible for commissioning and bringing together local NHS and local government services, such as those covering social care and mental health.
Two statutory bodies, an integrated care board and an integrated care partnership, will be formed – with only one GP being required on the board, according to recent NHS England guidance.
Labour said last night that it would be opposing the Bill on its second reading, arguing that the current backlog of NHS treatment means it is not the right time for a reorganisation.