Queens Speech 2008: Health

The Queen’s Speech today confirmed an NHS reform bill, “to strengthen the National Health Service,” as part of the government’s legislative program for the coming year.

This bill will enforce a duty to take into account the new NHS constitution, which will set out the core responsibilities of the service and the rights of staff and patients.

In addition to improving the quality of healthcare and promoting public health, it is understood the publication of an NHS constitution will also give patients more power in shaping and managing the care they receive.

Greater pressure on primary care trusts to increases their responsiveness to local communities is also expected.

The proposals for the National Health Service Reform Bill are based on recommendations from Lord Darzi’s ‘NHS Next Stage Review’. This review was meant to reemphasise the core values behind the NHS.

An emphasis on illness prevention and maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle form a major aspect of the reform. The aim is to make the NHS as successful with prevention as it is with cures.

Though the Queen did not specifically mention an adjunct proposal to increase restrictions on the cigarette advertising and display, the cheme will almost certainly go ahead.

The extent of this plan is still unclear, as it is expected it could be revised in order to make its tenets more business-friendly.

The proposals also included a ban on tobacco vending machines.

The draft legislation also proposed performance related funding, though the Queen did not specifically address this. This proposition means funding allocations will take into consideration the performance of specific hospitals, which will be determined by a comprehensive assessment of NHS trusts, including patient evaluation.