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Patients Association - Queen’s Speech shows a government in denial of the looming NHS crisis

The Patients Association has criticised the Queen’s Speech for not recognising the seriousness of the funding crisis facing health and social care, and the risks posed by Brexit.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive designate of the Patients Association, said: “This Queen’s Speech appears to show a government in denial about the major risks facing patients, their families and carers. While the media is awash with reports of plans to withdraw services and treatments to cope with funding shortfalls, there is no commitment by the Government to address the funding crisis.

“We need to allocate more of our national wealth to supporting our ageing population. The Office for Budgetary Responsibility could not have spelled this out more clearly. Yet the Government remains in denial.

“The announcements about Brexit also show a failure to recognise the breadth of its impact. There is a major risk of both workforce and treatments not being available in sufficient numbers or quickly enough to meet patients’ needs after Brexit. The Government needs to recognise the risks to patients, and work with patients and the voluntary sector.”

More positively, the Patients Association welcomes the proposed draft legislation to place the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) on a statutory footing, but is concerned that this might not be introduced as a Bill until after this two-year session. This will leave HSIB operating without the powers that its chief investigator says it needs to investigate serious breaches of patient safety properly.

The Patients Association will engage fully with the consultation on funding for social care, but notes that this is the latest in a sequence of consultations stretching back 20 years. It must produce meaningful change.

The lack of firm plans for new legislation on mental health, or to underpin the transformation of NHS services to a less market-oriented approach, bears out the Patients Association’s warning after the election that Brexit would crowd out essential legislation from the parliamentary timetable.

Rachel Power concluded: “In this hung parliament, the parties need to work together to face up to obvious realities together: anything short of committing adequate funding for health and social care will be a political decision by one of the world’s wealthiest nations not to provide adequate support to those in need.”

Queen's Speech 2017

Notes to editors:

The Office for Budgetary Responsibility’s forecast of future spending requirements can be read here.

The Patients Association’s response to the general election result can be read here.

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