The Health Bill returns to the House of Lords today, with a raft of new amendments lined up including one proposing a “duty of co-operation” for providers of NHS services.
The bill is entering its Lords report stage, following extensive debates in a committee of the whole house late last year.
A total of 300 amendments have been tabled by peers. The first set, expected to be discussed today, concerns the duty of the secretary of state for health. The compromise deal has been tabled jointly by government, crossbench and opposition peers and aims to make the health secretary’s duty to promote autonomy subservient to a duty to provide a “comprehensive” health service.
Another set of amendments, tabled by Liberal Democrat peers, inserts a new “duty of co-operation” for NHS providers.
Although the proposals have not yet won confirmed backing from either Conservative peers or the Labour benches, HSJ understands negotiations around them are still going on.
The amendments are intended to promote the integration of health and social care services, and provide a counter to controversial measures intended to promote greater competition between providers.
The new clauses propose: “It is the duty of each NHS provider of health care services to co-operate with—
“(a) other such providers (whether providing the same or different types of health care services for the same or different areas),
“(b) persons providing health-related services, or
“(c) persons providing social care services.”
They would also require NHS providers to “have regard in particular to co-operating in the integration of health care services with health-related services or with social care services, as the case may be, where they consider this would improve the quality of health services… or the efficiency of their provision.”