Government accepts changes to the Health and Social Care Bill
The government has agreed to make a series of core changes to its Health and Social Care Bill, following a report by the NHS Future Forum.
The NHS Future Forum, a group of 45 independent health experts led by Professor Steve Field, carried out a two-month consultation to address concerns over the content of the Bill.
Ministers have agreed to the 16 core changes outlined in the report and will now take further steps to embed the NHS Constitution, and the principles and values it contains, in the way the NHS works.
This includes the right to drugs and treatments recommended by NICE, which will be retained after the introduction of the proposed value-based pricing system for new drugs from January 2014.
The government will ensure that there is wider involvement in clinical commissioning. GP consortia will now be known as clinical commissioning groups and will include at least one nurse and one specialist doctor from secondary care.
Commissioners will be supported by clinical networks advising on single areas of care, such as cancer, and new ‘clinical senates' in each area of the country that will provide multi-professional advice on local commissioning plans. Both will be hosted within the NHS Commissioning Board.
There will be stronger accountability, with clinical commissioning groups expected to have lay members and to meet in public and publish data from their meetings.
Speaking to an audience of GPs at a conference in London yesterday, health secretary Andrew Lansley said that the government had listened to the concerns and improved its reform programme for the NHS accordingly.
"I know some of you have been frustrated by the pause and will be anxious to press on with your plans on the ground.
"But I hope you will see the importance of taking our time to get it right. And now, let me be absolutely clear, that there is absolutely nothing to stop you from pressing ahead."
Commissioning groups will all be established by April 2013. But where a group is not yet ready, the NHS Commissioning Board will commission on their behalf.
Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said: “We are pleased to see that NICE will continue to play a key role in helping to ensure that patients receive the best possible care on the NHS.
“We look forward to engaging with clinical commissioning groups and to supporting their work through the use of our guidelines, quality standards and commissioning guides.”
16 June 2011