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Matt Hancock has formally unveiled plans for a significant reorganisation of the health service that he said would bring better integration and accountability and less bureaucracy, but which will also concentrate power over the NHS with ministers.
Saying the coronavirus crisis had emphasised the need for both a more holistic approach to population-wide health, and better integration with care services, the health secretary portrayed the plans as implementing the desires of NHS staff, councils and others.
“We have listened, and these changes reflect what the health and care family have been asking for,” Hancock told the Commons, detailing plans for a healthcare white paper that will undo many of the changes made under the former Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley.
Saying the plans were the product of two years of discussions with the health service, local authorities and others, Hancock said they were intended to “make the system work for those who work in the system”.
He told MPs: “At its heart, this white paper enables greater integration, reduces bureaucracy and supports the way that the NHS and social care work when they work at their best – together.
“It strengthens accountability to this house, and crucially it takes the lessons we have learned in this pandemic of how the system can rise to meet the huge challenges and frames a legislative basis to support that.”
While the process had begun before coronavirus, Hancock said, the pandemic had further demonstrated the need for change, both in better connecting health and social care, and also in population-wide preventative health measures.
The shake-up has prompted questions about why Boris Johnson decided to trigger a potentially destabilising reorganisation of the NHS in the middle of the Covid pandemic.
NHS bodies and health experts have warned ministers that the power grab could backfire, distract staff from caring for patients and lead to the government being blamed by the public for any setback or controversy in the service, such as unpopular plans to downgrade a local hospital.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Matt Hancock announces shake-up giving ministers more power over NHS | Society