Queen's speech reveals new health Bill

A health Bill that aims to create an NHS led by clinical decision-makers will go before parliament in the next 18 months, the government has announced.

David Cameron's health bill will aim at reducing bureaucracy within the NHS
David Cameron's health bill will aim at reducing bureaucracy within the NHS

The Bill will establish an independent NHS Board, which will allocate resources, provide commissioning guidance and allow GPs to commission services for patients.

The government said the health bill will also allow it to deliver on its commitment to reduce bureaucracy and to implement its proposals for a 'sustainable national framework for the NHS'.

The Bill was revealed at the official state opening of parliament on Tuesday, where the Queen said that the role of doctors would be strengthened to improve public health, and action would be taken to reduce health inequalities.

She also said that the role of social enterprises, charities and co-operatives within public services would be enhanced, and the cost of bureaucracy and the number of public bodies would be reduced.

Dr Anna Dixon, the King's Fund's director of policy, said the government was giving a ‘clear signal' that changes are needed to improve the quality of general practice.

She said: ‘If, as expected, this includes transferring budgets to GPs, it will be important to learn from the previous experiences of GP-led commissioning in the UK and other countries to ensure it delivers benefits for patients, efficiency savings across the health system while ensuring accountability for public expenditure.

Dr Dixon added that the emphasis on improving public health will be a ‘key test' for the government.

‘Whether or not the coalition government is able to tackle the economic and social determinants of poor health and reduce health inequalities will be a key test of whether it can work effectively across departmental boundaries - something that eluded its predecessors,' she said.

Steve Barnett, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The stress on public health and the fact that budgets will be held locally is a helpful step towards the goal of a healthier population.'  

Meanwhile, the RCN urged the government to engage in 'meaningful dialogue' with nurses to find the best way to improve public health.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary said: 'Day in, day out nurses spend the majority of their time in contact with patients delivering care and because of this they will be instrumental when it comes to considering how to improve care while achieving savings.'

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