RCP: government amendments on access to services in part three of the Health and Social Care Bill

Commenting on the publication of the government’s amendments to part three of the Health and Social Care Bill, which deal with access to services, Sir Richard Thompson, president of the RCP, said the following.

‘There is an urgent need to reconfigure acute services primarily to drive up quality and to contain cost. It is crucial that the Bill improves the current reconfiguration process, which can be lengthy and wasteful.

‘The government’s intentions, to protect patients’ interests, to make the clinical case for service change and to ensure doctors and nurses take the lead in the decision making process, are sound. The RCP supports the plan to put clinicians at the heart of reconfiguration decisions, as they are best placed to understand the health service needs of their local communities. We also welcome the joint licensing process for Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This streamlined approach will help providers meet efficiency savings while improving patient safety.’

On access to essential services and affordability, Sir Richard continued,

‘There are some issues on which the RCP would like clarity. The government wants reconfiguration decisions to involve the local community as their support is necessary. However, local preferences about the location and quantity of services must be balanced against regional and national need and affordability. It is unclear how this will be achieved.

The government intends there to be effective safeguards to protect patients’ and taxpayers’ interests by securing continued access to essential services should a provider gets into financial and/or clinical difficulty. This is to be welcomed, but the government must be clear about the definition of essential services. It is important that the public are fully aware of what services will be protected if a local provider were to fail.’

For more information please contact:
Lisa Cunningham, Senior public affairs and PR officer
External Affairs, Communications Department, Royal College of Physicians
Direct line +44 (0)20 30751468 Mobile 07990745610

Lisa Cunningham | Senior Public Affairs and PR Officer
External Affairs, Communications Department | Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place | Regent’s Park | London NW1 4LE

Direct line +44 (0)20 30751468 | Mobile 07990745610 | Fax +44 (0)20 7486 5425