In two previous posts (see below), I wrote about the Big Society agenda proposed by the government. Subsequently on reading up on the Health and Social Care Bill which is
due to be being considered in the House of Lords, I noted similarities to the themes described in the Big Society agenda. Two of the stated aims of the Big Society agenda in the document ‘Building the Big Society‘ by the Cabinet Office are
‘Transfer power from central to local government……
Support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises‘
Supporting co-ops and other bodies can be seen in the Health and Social Care Bill with the wording ‘any willing provider’ being used for those bodies who are able to provide health services. The devolution of power is identified by Monitor. On their website, Monitor write that
‘Monitor strongly supports the Government’s proposals to move to a more devolved system for the NHS, with increased competition in healthcare, as set out in the Health and Social Care Bill‘
The parallels are drawn further in the DOH document ‘Liberating the NHS‘ where it is written that
‘The Government will devolve power and responsibility for commissioning services to the healthcare professionals closest to patients: GPs and their practice teams working in consortia‘ (page 4)
‘We will limit the powers of Ministers over day-to-day NHS decisions‘ (page 5)
The Health and Social Care Bill (the latest Bill at the time of writing can be viewed here) is currently at the stage of the second reading in the House of Lords (see the House of Parliament website here for details of the progress). There are three further stages in the House of Lords – the committee stage, the report stage and the third reading. Thus although the Big Society agenda has been considered by some to be vague, it is entirely possible that the Health and Social Care Bill partly represents a carefully thought through and detailed translation of the Big Society principles into healthcare. The remit of both however is much broader and so there is perhaps an overlap where the details of the Health and Social Care Bill can be examined in relation to the principles of the Big Society agenda. The Health and Social Care Bill has provoked a lot of discussion as well as opposition from a number of professional bodies and its passage through the House of Lords is being closely followed.
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