The government will “lay the foundations” for a more integrated health and care system, the Queen said in her speech to parliament today.
Reiterating plans to embed Integrated Care Systems in law – leaked earlier this year – Her Majesty introduced the Health and Care Bill, which also aims to reduce bureaucratic processes in the health service.
The bill addresses the need for innovation in the NHS to deliver more efficient and affordable health care.
“My Ministers will bring forward legislation to empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology. Patients will receive more tailored and preventative care, closer to home,” she said.
The bill aims to drive more joined up care by ensuring every area in England is covered by and Integrated Care System (ICS).
According to a background briefing on the Queen’s speech, the bill will make it “lay the foundations for a more integrated, efficient and accountable health and care system – one which allows staff to get on with their jobs and provide the best possible treatment and care for their patients”.
“Making it easier for different parts of the health and care system, including doctors and nurses, carers, local government officials and the voluntary sector to work together to provide joined-up services.”
The government released its white paper for health and care in February 2021, which also detailed plans to embed lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic and make legislative changes to reduce red tape around procurement and data sharing.
It will “modernise the legal framework” to make the health system “fit for the future”, according to a Department of Health and Social Care statement at the time.
The paper also detailed plans to overhaul procurement processes and data sharing.
It followed health secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘bureaucracy-busting mission’, which aims to improve the use of data within the NHS and would see the health service capitalise on “good practice” responses during Covid-19.
The government has already begun its drive for better use of data, set out in the white paper, with the launch of a review led by Dr Ben Goldacre into how data can be used for research and analysis.
It will complement the forthcoming Data Strategy for Health and Social Care which will set the direction for the use of data in a post-pandemic healthcare system.
The data strategy, to be led by NHSX, was also recommended by Hancock in his November 2020 call to end bureaucracy in the NHS.
Commissioners would also no longer be required to put contracts out to tender and instead there would be a new policy which gives the NHS and local authorities greater flexibility over who would provide healthcare services.
Following the release of the white paper James Reed, chair of the Digital Health CCIO (chief clinical information officer) Network, said it offered a “real opportunity” for digital clinical leaders to shape the future of joined up care.