Queen's speech promises Government will 'lay foundations' for a more integrated health and care system

Health think tanks have criticised the plans for failing to address social care reform.
By Tammy Lovell
10:41 AM

Photo by Sanjeri / Getty Images

The Queen's Speech to officially reopen Parliament promised legislation to empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology.

In the speech to the House of Lords yesterday, she delivered the government’s plans for a pandemic recovery that would beat COVID-19 and back the NHS.

“My ministers will bring forward legislation to empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology. Patients will receive more tailored and preventative care, closer to home,” Her Majesty said.

A background briefing on the speech to Parliament the Queen said the Health and Care Bill will “lay new foundations for a more integrated and efficient health and care system”, enabling staff to focus on delivering the best possible treatment and care for their patients and giving the NHS and local authorities tools to “level up health and care across England”.

However, independent health think tanks the Health Foundation, the Kings Fund and Nuffield Trust have criticised the government plans for not addressing social care reform.


The Health and Social Care Bill, which builds on the NHS Long Term Plan, is intended to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by stripping away unnecessary legislative bureaucracy, empowering local leaders and services and tackling health inequalities


In February, health secretary Matt Hancock set out plans to reform the NHS and deliver a more joined up health and care system.

A government white paper outlined proposals to make integrated care systems (ICSs) the default across England, bust bureaucracy”, and better support social care, public health and improve the way data is collected and shared.


Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, said: “The Health and Care Bill may help improve collaboration between services but it will not fix the most urgent issues facing the service, with critical workforce shortages and a huge backlog of unmet need for care. Without significant investment in the workforce, infrastructure and technology, the backlog won’t be addressed quickly and the public will experience avoidable long waits for care.

Richard Murray, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: “The Health and Care Bill signals a welcome step towards delivering integrated care centred around the needs of patients. However, once the Bill is laid before parliament, we will be examining the details closely, particularly new powers for ministers to take control of national decisions about the NHS and intervene in decisions about changes to local services.”

Nuffield Trust deputy director of policy, Natasha Curry said: "The NHS Bill included today has the potential to bring together health and social care services more closely - the pandemic has shown why that is important. But the NHS has been through many restructures before. The government should be very cautious about a Whitehall power grab from the NHS and seeing this as an answer to the challenges ahead.”


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