Matt Hancock’s Future of Healthcare

Recently the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, delivered a speech to the Royal College of Physicians about the future of healthcare.  Much of what has driven his vision of the future was based on the health and social care sector’s response to the Covid19 pandemic.  His vision for the future of healthcare was focussed on what was achieved in a short space of time and what of this will become the norm moving forward.

Much of his future vision involves empowering clinical staff to “use their professional judgement” saying: “This is all about building that culture of trusting people to use their professional judgement, to do the right thing, instead of seeming, appearing to assume someone will do the wrong thing unless they have layers of management peering over their shoulder.”

Commenting on the speech, the Institute of Government, noted: “Health bodies have done their best to work around the 2012 Act but fundamental reform will require new legislation. Few issues are as emotive as the NHS and it’s not clear that the government has the appetite for the fight that reform may entail with opposition parties, unions and the public.”

Healthcare regulation – New legislation

The Secretary of State’s future vision touches also on the need for legislative reform of the fitness to practise framework in the UK.

The Department of Health and Social Care has already announced its intention to bring forward legislation to reform health care regulation in the UK.  To date however, there has been very little movement on this to the apparent dismay of some health care regulators.  For example, the HCPC, responding to the Secretary of State’s speech said: “In professional regulation, we urgently need a new legislative framework if we are to move beyond pre-pandemic old ways and we, with other regulators, have been working with your Department to prepare this… We must sweep away the outdated framework under which we struggle to operate if we are to modernise regulation and make sure it is fit for the future.”

The Secretary of State promised action saying the “barnacle-like encrustation of rules and regulations” has been “disempowering to many brilliant, highly motivated frontline staff who just want to get on with caring for patients.”  He issued a call for evidence to share the rules and regulations which people across the NHS and social care feel should be amended or removed.

Stephen McCaffrey

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