Thank you for contacting me about the Health and Care Bill.
The Health and Care Bill contains widely supported (and much needed) reforms to our NHS. These reforms aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health services, such as our hospitals, GP surgeries and social care providers, to work more closely together – it is an evolution and not the ‘revolution’ that some might have you think. The initial draft of the Bill does indeed increase the powers of the Secretary of State, but many MPs and neutral observers welcome this as enhancing democratic responsibility and accountability. If the Secretary of State for Health is held accountable to Parliament for the NHS and its work, as he basically is, then there is a strong argument to say that it is only fair and sensible that he should have appropriate powers to direct its affairs.
This Bill will put into legislation some of the improvements already underway in the NHS and, importantly, builds on the recommendations of the NHS’s own Long Term Plan, laying the foundations for our recovery from this dreadful pandemic. There will remain, quite rightly in my view, a role for private companies, social enterprises and charities to deliver some healthcare free at the point of need for NHS patients, and under strict contract with the NHS, but this role is not notably enhanced or increased by this Bill, as I understand it. Indeed, I think I'm right in saying that a majority of expert observers expect this Bill to slightly reduce the current access that companies and social enterprises have to tendering to provide NHS services.
For more information on this, please see the attached letter from the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The NHS is incredibly important to me, as it is to you, and you can be sure that at all times during its passage through Parliament I will be scrutinising this Bill very carefully indeed to ensure that our its core values and principles remain fully protected.
Thank you once again for writing.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking