How will the New Health and Social Care Bill Affect Me?

Following the 2010 general coalition, several reforms have been introduced and some already implemented, the centerpiece of which is the Health and Social Care Act 2012.  This reform is set to introduce widespread changes to the way in which NHS in England is organized. Some of these changes have since been implemented. This new reform is charged with improving the overall social care system while reforming and bettering its funding mechanism. It is important for you, as the consumer, to know how the new Health and Social Care bill will affect you and your family and the care that you need and receive.

Changes under the New Reform

There are a series of changes under the new Health and Social Care Bill that have been implemented since 1 April 2013. These changes include some that could impact you as the consumer. The first change implemented was that of giving groups of GP practices and other professionals real and tangible budgets to purchase care on behalf of their own corresponding local communities. These other professionals include the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Secondly, there have been several responsibilities shifted from the Department of Health to the NHS Commissioning Board. This Commissioning Board has also be renamed the NHS England. Thirdly, all NHS trusts have been moved to foundation trust status. And lastly, a health specific economic regulator, the monitor, has been created. This regulator is mandated to guard against any practices that could be deemed anti-competitive.

Impacts on Consumers

All of these changes associated with the Health and Social Care Bill have impacts on the everyday consumer. These changes have all been implemented so as to create an impact on how the NHS is managed and organised. Furthermore, this impact is passed on to the consumer in how services are delivered. The NHS has now seen changes to its funding arrangements, its overall structure, accountabilities, and its working relationships.

It has been difficult to gauge what impacts all of these reform changes have had or will have in the future on consumers and service and system users. There has, of course, been some a concern or hesitations regarding the changes. Most of these hesitations revolve around the localisation that the reform creates. The first of these concerns is that localisation will exacerbate the already existent inequalities apparent in the system. Secondly, there is the concern that the gains from successful frameworks and national strategies will be risked. And thirdly, and perhaps most pertinent to the average consumer, is the concern that the less common conditions of patients will go unnoticed.

The overall biggest consumer concern of these reform changes is the question as to whether or not a localised system can in fact improve areas that have historically fallen victim to lesser or poor care. These areas include a number of health conditions including diabetes, mental health and neurological conditions. There is also the question as to whether or not this localised system can provider better care for children and for the elderly, who typically experience longer lasting conditions and diagnoses. Many consumer and patient groups are finding it increasingly difficult to find ways to improve quality of care given that the new changes have been somewhat complicated and confusing at the start.

As with many reforms, the Health and Social Care Bill will have its share or kinks to work out over its first months and year of implementation. These changes surround many areas regarding consumer health care, all of which can impact the services received by consumers.