Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Crossbench 5:15 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, I have Amendment 165 in this group. It is designed to prevent anti-collaborative behaviour in the provision of healthcare services for the purposes of the NHS. Promoting collaboration and integration must be at least as powerful, if not more so, than preventing anti-competitive behaviour. We are well aware that no two patients are the same and, to date, all too often professional boundaries-whoever is the person providing the care-have created barriers. Those are very evident between primary and secondary care and can prevent a seamless patient experience.

This is not an amendment to prevent different providers coming together. Its aim is to ensure that whoever those providers are, whether they are NHS, whether they are from the voluntary sector or whether they are from social care, they must collaborate for the benefit of each individual patient. Therefore, the ways in which they will need to be able to collaborate will vary depending on the patients they are dealing with. Good care should treat the patient and their experience in the context of their life, social support relationships, cultural experience, gender and a range of other factors, and the services should support people to live productive, independent lives in their own homes for as long as possible. Patients, including older patients, must have access to specialist services, including in-patient, acute care when appropriate. Again, that will require collaboration between homecare services, in-patient services and step-down services to rehabilitate people in their homes. There will be a wide range of providers of all those services.

Population health needs and inequalities must be considered at the planning stage. Even doing that will require close collaboration between those doing the assessments. The tariff should reflect the complexity of clinical care and should encourage integration and collaboration between providers. The danger exists at the moment of a tariff structure that does not reflect clinical complexity but overcompensates for simple conditions and for those where there is a discrete episode of care, and does not recognise ongoing complexity. The tariff must work toward commissioning across the whole patient pathway. Information and data gathered around patients and clinical services should also reflect that. I hope that the amendment will make sure that the need for collaboration occurs at every level across providers, because at the end of the day Monitor will have the responsibility for licensing all providers.

The other reason for the amendment is that there will be times when competition and collaboration might appear not to be one and the same, and may indeed look to be in conflict. My concern is that unless there is a requirement for collaborative behaviour, it will be all too easy for the justification for commissioning to be based more on competition than on collaboration. In the balance of doubt, patients need to know that there is collaboration between their providers. There have been examples in social care and in the delivery of healthcare in care homes where integration could certainly have improved, for example, the unacceptable level of medication errors. Collaboration is going on among a variety of agents and stakeholders to develop practical solutions and an integrated approach to medication safety in care homes. Public health, too, requires the three arms of health improvement, health protection and healthcare delivery to work together, and will be very dependent on collaboration with other aspects of the NHS.

Perhaps I might take this opportunity briefly to correct a piece of information that I gave to the House in our previous debate and which turned out to be a little out of date-for which I apologise. It related to troops coming back from our theatres of war, where the provision of prosthetics has improved. This is an example of good collaboration between all agencies, which has been underpinned by the military covenant that the Government supported and instigated in legislation. The result has been an improvement in the care of those who are extremely vulnerable.

I hope that the House, and the Minister in particular, will see that there is a need to make sure that collaboration is driven forward between all providers, wherever they are and wherever they come from, so that the NHS and its principles can be underpinned for the benefit of patient outcomes.