Clause 14 - People for whom integrated care boards have responsibility

Part of Health and Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 16th September 2021.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 12:45 pm, 16th September 2021

The clause requires NHS England to publish rules setting out which people each ICB is responsible for. We intend to recreate as closely as possible the arrangements that currently exist for clinical commissioning groups. However, CCG responsibility is based on a model of GP membership that will no longer exist under the new ICB arrangements.

The clause places a duty on NHS England to publish rules determining the responsibility of each ICB, subject to certain exceptions that may be created by secondary legislation. This is intended to replicate the ability to make exceptions to the responsibilities of CCGs by regulations in section 3(1D) of the National Health Service Act 2006. As with the existing regulations, the new regulations would be subject to the affirmative procedure of the House, which I hope offers some reassurance to the Opposition Front Bench in respect of the regulation-making powers. Therefore, there would continue to be strong parliamentary oversight of regulations under the clause.

Proposed new section 14Z31 ensures that no one slips through any gaps. The rules set by NHS England must ensure that everyone who accesses primary medical services, as well as anyone who is not registered with a GP but is resident in England, is allocated to a group of people for which an ICB is responsible. In practice, we expect NHS England’s rules to be framed in such a way that ICBs will be associated with certain GP practices, and responsible for patients registered with those specified GP practices. They will also be responsible for people who are not registered but are resident in the ICB geographical footprint.

Taking that approach is intended to ensure universality of coverage and to minimise the disruption of transitioning from CCGs to ICBs. The clause also provides a power to replace the duty on NHS England to publish rules dealing with ICB responsibility, with an alternative approach based simply on residency. If it is considered appropriate in the future, those new arrangements would mean that ICBs were responsible for those who usually reside within their specified geographical footprint. Regulations would be required in order to change that approach.

The clause provides the necessary certainty about which ICB is responsible for which people. Without it, there could be significant confusion about ICB responsibilities, difficulty in calculating financial allocations to ICBs based on those they are responsible for and uncertainty for providers about which people they are contracted to provide services to. The clause seeks to provide fluent continuity with the arrangements under CCGs, and explicitly does not allow people to fall through gaps. Ultimately, everyone will be the responsibility of an ICB and will be able to access care when they need it. I therefore commend the clause to the Committee.