Draft social care bill in Queen's Speech 'does not go far enough'

NHS leaders have expressed their disappointment at the lack of government urgency surrounding the draft care and support bill included in the Queen's Speech.

Dr Richard Vautrey: 'I'm concerned that the government is not acting more urgently.'
Dr Richard Vautrey: 'I'm concerned that the government is not acting more urgently.'

The Queen's Speech revealed plans to publish a draft bill ‘to modernise adult care and support in England’.

According to the DH the draft care and support bill will:

  • Modernise the legal framework for care and support, to support the vision of the forthcoming government White Paper on care and support.
  • Respond to the recommendations of the Law Commission, which conducted a three-year review into social care law.
  • Establish Health Education England as a non-departmental public body.
  • Establish the Health Research Authority a non-departmental public body.
  • Create a London Health Improvement Board.
  • Carry out engagement and pre-legislative scrutiny on the draft bill, as many in the social care sector have called for, to enable government to listen to people with experience and expertise, to make the most of this unique opportunity to reform the law.

However NHS leaders have expressed concerns that a bill in draft form will not go far enough to tackle the issues surrounding social care.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘I am concerned that the government is not acting more urgently.

‘It has wasted so much time and money on an unnecessary restructuring of the NHS and yet doesn't seem willing to address the increasingly urgent crisis in providing social care to some of the most vulnerable in our society,’ he said.

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout warned that legislation in draft form meant that political agreement on the issue was ‘still some way off’.

‘Our current model of social care is broken and we desperately need a long-term, sustainable resolution if we are to avoid further negative impact on local government and NHS services.

‘We cannot emphasise enough just how critical it is to create a sustainable and high quality solution. We urge the government to treat this issue as a real priority. None of us - patients, carers, staff or government - can afford for this to be kicked into the long grass again.’

Writing for the Guardian, Commons health select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell (Con) described the announcement of a draft bill as a ‘disappointment’.

He said: ‘The care system was not designed for the modern world; it is quite simply not fit for purpose. That is why reform is now urgently required. Not a reform of the management structure, but a reform of the way care is delivered.’

The Queen’s speech also revealed the government’s plans to push ahead with public sector pension reforms with the publication of the Public Service Pensions Bill.

The reforms, based on Lord Hutton’s review of public sector pensions, called for an end to final-salary pensions and increased employee contributions.

Responding to the announcement, the BMA called for ministers to urgently rethink their ‘damaging plans to make changes to the NHS Pension Scheme’.

BMA pensions committee chair Dr Alan Robertson said: ‘The BMA is gravely concerned that ministers are still intent on pushing ahead with their unnecessary and unfair changes to the NHS pension scheme.

‘There is real anger amongst hard working doctors about the way they have been treated. The government must think again and re-open negotiations with the BMA so we can find a fair solution.’

The BMA is currently balloting members for industrial action following an outright rejection of Lord Hutton's proposals.

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