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The Health and Care Bill: let’s give patients a voice

Patients must have a formal role in healthcare decision making and this should be reflected in the proposed reforms to the structure of the NHS set out in the Health and Care Bill.

“There are a lot of benefits in creating a more joined-up approach to care and bringing the components of the local health system together,” says Barbara Harpham, chair of the MTG, “however, there is a real risk that patients are denied access to treatment because of arbitrary criteria and poor decisions.

“Nowhere in the proposed Bill is there mention of a role for patients in the decision-making process,” she adds. “It’s vital that they are involved at all levels in deciding what type of care is available in their area and in the development of care pathways.”

The MTG is also concerned about how Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which will take control of the bulk of NHS spending and will be responsible for commissioning and delivery of care in their region, will be held accountable to patients and the public.

“We must also know how ICSs will be scrutinised,” says Barbara, “so that patients and the public can see they are adhering to national guidance and are giving patients proper access to treatments that have been approved nationally.”

November 2021

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