‘( ) the desirability of persons who provide health care services for the purposes of the NHS co-operating with each other in order to improve the quality of health care services provided for those purposes,’.
I shall be extremely brief, as I know the Committee wants to make progress. The Future Forum report made it clear that to deliver responsive care for the changing needs of our population, a different approach to care and treatment is needed, in particular to provide a better service for the growing number of people with long-term health conditions. We have made amendments elsewhere to address those concerns, for example by putting a new duty on CCGs, and a strengthened duty on the NHS commissioning board to promote integrated services for patients, both within the NHS and between health, social care and other local services.
Monitor will also be required to enable integrated services for patients, where this would improve quality of care or reduce inequalities for patients or improve efficiency. However, in addition, the amendment would place a specific duty on Monitor to have regard to the desirability of providers co-operating in the delivery of services across organisational boundaries. For example, following a complex hip replacement operation, a patient would transfer from secondary care to receiving physiotherapy in primary care, or community-based aftercare provided at home. Providers need to co-operate to ensure that patients transfer from one service provider to another smoothly and without any apparent break in treatment that would be detrimental to the patient. The amendment supports that co-operation.
One of the practical differences that could be supported through the amendment would be the use of tariffs along a care pathway, involving a number of providers, rather than tariffs for individual episodes of care within a provider. That will deliver better co-ordinated care for patients and maximise their recovery.
I, too, do not intend to speak for long. However, I cannot resist letting the words “We told you so” pass my lips for the first time as a Front Bencher. I have not occasion to say that recently; my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West has been able to do so many times so far.
When we last debated the clause, we discussed extensively an amendment tabled by my Front-Bench colleagues, which said pretty much the same as the Government’s amendment. It talked about the need to improve collaboration and integration. It said that putting a clear requirement on Monitor to have particular regard to the need to support integration and collaboration—integration about which we have heard the Minister talk—would help allay the fears that some have about fragmentation. In response, the Minister used a phrase that became extremely familiar during our 28—or was it 38?—sittings:
“Although I understand and appreciate the sentiment of the amendment, I believe it is not necessary.”––[Official Report, Health and Social Care Public Bill Committee, 15 March 2011; c. 777.]
Clearly it was necessary, which is why we have the amendment before us today, and we are happy to support it.