The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic reminded us how vital our health and care system is to all of us. The NHS will always be free at the point of use, and any proposed reforms aim to continue to improve the quality of these services and patient outcomes.
As we recover from the pandemic, it is right and necessary that our health and care services are at the forefront. The pandemic underlined not only the dedication and skill of those in this sector, but also the necessity of a broader, more integrated health and care system. I welcome the intention to develop more integrated care between the NHS, Local Government and other partners including the voluntary and community sector, which will be vital in tackling the factors that affect the long-term sustainability of patient services. The Act makes permanent some of the innovations brought about by the pandemic. These reforms also include proper accountability mechanisms and give patients and the public the confidence that they are receiving the best care from their healthcare system.
The measures set out in the Health and Care Act deliver on the NHS’s own proposals for reform in its Long Term Plan. These proposals have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in this sector, and I am encouraged by the positive feedback received. In particular, the comments from the former Chief Executive of NHS England, who said that this Act “will support our health and care services to be more integrated and innovative so the NHS can thrive in the decades to come”, are reassuring.