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The Health and Social Care Bill today gained Royal Assent to become the Health and Social Care Act (2012)

The core principles of the Act mean that doctors and nurses will be able to tailor services for their patients, more choice will be given to patients over how they are treated, and bureaucracy in the NHS will be reduced.

The Act will:

• Devolve power to front-line doctors and nurses: Health professionals will be free to design and tailor local health services for their patients;

• Drive up quality: Patients will benefit from a renewed focus on improving quality and outcomes;

• Ensure a focus on integration: There will be strong duties on the health service to promote integration of services;

• Strengthen public health: Giving responsibility for local public health services to local authorities will ensure that they are able to pull together the work done by the NHS, social care, housing, environmental health, leisure and transport services;

• Give patients more information and choice: Patients will have greater information on how the NHS is performing and the range of providers they can choose for their healthcare. And they will have a stronger voice through Healthwatch England and local Healthwatch;

• Strengthen local democratic involvement: Power will shift from Whitehall to town hall – there will be at least one locally elected councillor and a representative of Healthwatch on every Health and Wellbeing Board, to influence and challenge commissioning decisions and promote integrated health and care;

• Reduce bureaucracy: Two layers of management - Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities - will be removed through the Act, saving £4.5 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament, with every penny being reinvested in patient care.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said:

"The Health and Social Care Act will deliver more power to clinicians, it will put patients at the heart of the NHS, and it will reduce the costs of bureaucracy.
"We now have an opportunity to secure clinical leadership to deliver improving quality and outcomes; better results for patients is our objective."

Professor Steve Field, chair of the NHS Future Forum, said:

"It was a tremendous privilege to be able to chair the Independent NHS Future Forum. All the comments and debate that we heard helped improve the Bill.
"Chairing the Future Forum gave me the rare opportunity to meet a huge variety of patients, the passionate health professionals and organisations that make the NHS what it is. What’s vital now is that the Government continues to work closely with them to put the freedoms the Bill offers into practice."

Dr Nadim Fazlani, a GP and the leader of a Clinical Commissioning Group in Liverpool, said:

"The new structure of the NHS will give me and my colleagues much more freedom and control to design care around our patients. ‘No decision about me without me’ is a key concept – my colleagues and I will be working directly with patients, giving them a wider choice of where, when and how they receive their healthcare."

The implementation of the Act will now enable clinical leaders, patients’ representatives and local government to all take new and leading roles in shaping more effective services.

Written by Scott Buckler
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 14:02

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