Care England wants to see government Bill bolstered

Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive

Care England has identified five main areas where it wants to see the government’s Health and Care Bill bolstered.

The representative body for independent providers of adult social care said for real integration between health and social care to happen, operators needed to be directly represented on integrated care systems (ICSs) NHS and partnership boards.

It is also calling for a 10-year workforce plan for adult social care; a framework around assessment of local authorities; and for ICSs to fulfil a certain level of awareness and understanding of the sector. Finally, it wants social care plans to be published by the prime minister before ICSs come into effect.

‘Care England will be working with parliamentarians as the Bill makes progress through both Houses of Parliament,’ said Professor Martin Green, Care England chief executive. ‘Furthermore our vision, We Care for England, to be published later in the month will provide the government with a plan as to how to deliver sustainable long-term reform for the sector.’

The Health and Care Bill was introduced in Parliament yesterday (Tuesday 6 July). It aims to ensure each part of England has both an integrated care board and partnership responsible for bringing together NHS and local government, such as social care, mental health services and public health advice, to deliver joined-up support for its population.

A package of measures will also be introduced to deliver on specific needs in social care. This will aim to improve oversight and accountability in the delivery of services; update the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge; and introduce improved powers for the secretary of state to directly make payments to adult social care providers where required.

The Bill aims to make the NHS less bureaucratic, more accountable, and better integrated in the wake of Covid-19.

In February, the government set out its plans and its introduction in Parliament followed discussions with NHS England, the Local Government Association and the health and care sector.

While welcoming the direction of travel in health and care services outlined by the Bill, health and social care committee chair Jeremy Hunt MP said: ‘There are, however, two major omissions of great concern: firstly on social care, where this Bill is a missed opportunity to publish not only the detail of planned reforms, but crucially, how they will be paid for.

‘Secondly, it says little about the desperately needed overhaul of workforce planning given the shortages in nearly every NHS and care specialty right now. Without addressing such pressing issues the broader ambition of the Bill will not be achieved.’

However, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘To help meet demand, build a better health service and bust the backlog, we need to back the NHS, as it celebrates its 73rd birthday this week, and embed lessons learned from the pandemic. This will support our health and care services to be more integrated and innovative so the NHS can deliver for people in the decades to come.’