What the Health and Social Care Bill means (Jan '11)

A doctor with a patient

The Government has presented its new Health Bill to Parliament, with the focus on improving patient treatment and experience, as well as increased emphasis on public health and prevention. But what exactly will it mean for us and what does Age UK think about the new proposals?

As the new Health Bill continues its passage through the House of Commons on Monday 31st January with its Second Reading, overall, Age UK thinks the ideas behind the changes could be good for people in later life.

We agree with the Government that a much clearer focus on what actually happens to patients while they are being treated, and how many people get better, is the right kind of vision for the NHS to be asked to live up to.

Better patient care needed

But, we think there are some problems with the way the Government wants to make these changes and that in some areas they might not mean better care for people.

To be successful, the health reforms need to deliver better patient care for everyone, not just the illnesses where it might be possible to treat people and see results quickly.

People are living longer and living with more complicated health problems so it is important the NHS focuses care on people with more than one health problem or who might be more difficult to treat. Services that keep people out of hospital such as falls prevention or footcare should also be widely available.

More cooperation required

We think that local authorities and GPs around the country should work together more closely to ensure that there aren’t as many gaps between health and social care services.

Also, people who design healthcare services should be open and transparent about the decisions they are taking – if the NHS is really going to get better, people who make the decisions need to hear the views of patients loud and clear.

Healthcare professional concerns

Many doctors, nurses and other health professionals are concerned about these changes. One of the most important things the Government should do is make sure that current services are maintained. People shouldn’t have to suffer because the health service is being reformed - it's important that today’s patients don't lose out while services are reorganised to provide better care tomorrow.

People in later life are the main users of NHS services. Poor communication, a lack of joined-up care, plus services that don’t work well all have a high impact on those who are frequent service users. Everyone suffers when poor practice goes unchallenged, so getting healthcare right for people in later life is fundamentally about getting it right for everyone.

Read Age UK's full reaction to the Health Bill in our briefing paper below

opens link in new window Download Age UK's briefing on the Health and Social Care Bill 2nd Reading (PDF 158KB) 

 

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