Health and Care Bill granted Royal Assent in milestone for healthcare recovery and reform

Today, the Health and Care Bill has received Royal Assent, marking a milestone in the recovery and reform of how health and care services work together. Read our response.
Woman smiling at the camera in front or an ambulance

The Health and Care Bill has received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen, enacting the most significant health legislation in a decade.

The Health and Care Bill marks an important step in the Government's agenda

The Act introduces measures to tackle the Covid backlogs and rebuild health and social care services from the pandemic, backed by £36 billion over the next three years through the Health and Care Levy. It will also contain measures to tackle health disparities by joining-up services to put the health and care system on a more sustainable footing. It builds on the proposals for legislative change set out by NHS England in its Long Term Plan. 
It marks an important step in the Government’s health and care agenda, setting up systems and structures to reform how health and adult social care work together. It will tackle long waiting lists built up during the pandemic and address some of the long-term challenges, such as a growing and aging population, chronic conditions and health inequalities.

The changes will put collaboration at the heart of healthcare

As part of the measures to deliver more joined-up care, every part of England will be covered by an Integrated Care System (ICS) bringing together NHS, local government and wider system partners to put collaboration and partnership at the heart of healthcare planning.

For example, the existing non-statutory Somerset Integrated Care System is already rolling out a 24/7 helpline that directs people looking for mental health support to services across the voluntary sector, social care and NHS. The scheme brings together doctors, nurses, psychologists, and charities such as Age UK, Citizen’s Advice, Rethink Mental Illness and others through a shared system for recovery and care planning. The aim is to enable all professionals involved in the person’s care to communicate with each other. This means that patients are directed to the right service and reduces any time spent speaking to various services until they find the right one.

Louise Ansari, National Director at Healthwatch England said:

“Today marks an important milestone in creating an NHS that makes it easier for everyone to get the care they need. 

“Integrated care is an ideal incentive for health and social care services, councils and the voluntary sector to work together to design services that work better and reflect the way people use them. The new structures will work best if people, and in particular those from seldom heard groups, get truly involved and have a say in planning our health and care. By integrating services across communities, we have a chance to address delays and gaps in care. 

“As a statutory champion for patients’ rights, we look forward to playing our part, supporting the NHS to hear and act on the issues that people face so that professionals and the public can work together to overcome the current challenges and build a better NHS for generations to come.”

Find out more about the plans on the Government website.