Government to publish health and social care white paper

Government to publish health and social care white paper

February 11, 2021

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced new plans for health and care systems that are designed to bring services closer together, to support the delivery of high-quality care and to help tackle health inequalities.

Integrated Care Systems (ICS) will bring together the NHS local government and partners, and specific measures are expected to address obesity, oral health and patient choice.

In line with the Health and Social Care Secretary’s top priorities when he first took up the role, the proposals look to improve the use of technology within the health and care sector and to better support public health. A big part of this will mean using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the value of reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, introducing ‘joined up’ services and empowering local leaders.

The proposals build on the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan and used the evidence gathered from the open consultation on reducing bureaucracy which ran during August and September 2020.

The proposals follow a consultation on integrated care which PSNC responded to earlier in 2021. In our response we highlighted the need for community pharmacy representation to be built into the systems and the risk that the needs of larger NHS Trusts could end up dominating ICS agendas.

PSNC will continue to press policy makers and others to ensure that community pharmacy has a proper voice in the new local systems.

Key measures in the white paper include:

  • The NHS and local government to establish integrated care systems to plan health and care services;
  • Moving services out of hospitals and into the community, focusing on preventative healthcare;
  • The NHS will only need to tender services when it has the potential to lead to better outcomes for patients;
  • The Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch to become a statutory body so it can continue to reduce risk and improve safety;
  • Introduction of new requirements about calorie labelling on food and drink packaging and the advertising of junk food before the 9pm watershed; and
  • A package of measures to deliver on specific needs in the social care sector.

The ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all‘ has now been be published on the GOV.UK website.

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:

“We understand that Ministers see this new white paper on health and care services as a really positive opportunity for community pharmacies. They recognise the important contribution that pharmacies can make to the prevention agenda and the changes could provide a chance for pharmacies to deliver preventative healthcare in a way that could reduce overall costs for Integrated Care Systems (ICS). We know too that community pharmacies, as the most accessible healthcare locations, can play a central role in helping to reduce health inequalities as per the ambitions of this white paper.

But history tells us that it will not be easy for the sector to gain a foothold in newly reformed local healthcare systems, and we will continue to work closely with LPCs and contractors at a local level to ensure that this happens. We had called for the Government to specify that community pharmacy must have a place in the new systems, with all primary care providers part of their governance, and we will continue to push policy makers and Parliamentarians to ensure that pharmacy is given a proper voice in all local systems. PSNC will also work to protect contractors from any risks should the new proposals impact on the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.

Community pharmacies have been at the forefront of the NHS response to COVID-19 and this critical role must be built upon as we start to recover from the pandemic and look to the future of health and care services.”

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