The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.
- Today’s expert briefing on the recovery agenda: ‘It feels like no one has their hand on the tiller’
- Today’s fall from grace: Trust director sacked after investigation into bogus law degree
The long-anticipated health bill published on Tuesday unsurprisingly contained a string of new rules around the sharing of information in the NHS.
The most notable is the creation of a new offence, punishable by up to six months in prison, for anyone who is found to be sharing NHS data inappropriately.
The bill’s explanatory notes stated that NHS Digital has been given new powers to collect information about medicines and their effects in the UK to create a new medicine registry. It goes on to say that if anyone receives information for the purposes of creating the registry and shares it inappropriately, they could face a fine, prison sentence or both.
The bill also introduces new requirements for private health and social care providers to share data with NHS Digital when asked. The explanatory notes state: “The effect of the amendment is to additionally enable [NHSD] to require private providers of health services to provide [it with] any information it requires in order to comply with a direction from the secretary of state under section 254 of the 2012 Act to establish an information system.”
And if they fail to comply with information standards they could by fined by the secretary of state.
Taking back control
The government confirmed on Tuesday it was pressing ahead with an audacious power grab — which will allow ministers to seize decision-making over key strategic objectives and priorities from the NHS — in a bill laid before Parliament.
The Health and Care Bill also sets out the long-awaited legislative underpinning for integrated care systems, with clauses which will put integrated care boards and partnerships on a legal footing.
But the most controversial measures in the bill without doubt surround clauses which would give the health secretary a general power to direct over NHS agencies, including NHS England and Improvement, and over local service reconfigurations.
You can read about: How the health secretary’s new powers will work, as set out in the bill here.
The bill will facilitate the biggest reorganisation of the NHS for a decade. You can read about what it means for integrated care systems here and what it means for competition rules here.