Queen’s Speech 2021

11th May 2021 about a 3 minute read

The occasion and format of the Queen’s Speech was always going to be somewhat different this year.  But in terms of legislation and policy measures, some areas of the government’s plans (notably social care) have left us still scratching our heads.

FCC is ideally placed to raise and lead debate around the future of health and care.  As the pandemic has taught us, physical, mental and emotional health are key aspects of health and social care, as is place.  The commissioning and delivery of health and care do not exist in a vacuum and are inextricably linked to wider areas of policy including technology, climate, life sciences and employment.

We welcome many aspects of today’s Queen’s Speech in our priority areas with potential for significant impact for our beneficiaries. In particular:

  • Empowering the NHS to innovate and embrace technology
  • Implementing preventative care closer to home measures
  • Mental health measures
  • The ambition to lead the world in life sciences
  • R&D – fastest ever increase in public funding
  • Lifetime skills guarantee – flexible access
  • Binding environmental targets via legislation

However more detail is needed to determine how comprehensive the plans are…  And of course the biggest disappointment is social care. The pledge is that plans for social care will be ‘brought forward.’ What on earth does this mean?

Social care reform is long awaited and promised, yet we face further delays as the can is kicked down the road yet again. This is just not good enough. We need a bill and legislation to fix a broken system, not just more discussion.  Jeremy Hunt acknowledged how he thought he fell short as Secretary of State in this area. But, recently, he has articulated very well that we are now at a pivotal moment like when the NHS was formed.  Coupled with the PM’s promise to ‘fix social care’, history will not look kindly on such a huge missed opportunity.

Meanwhile the government has pledged to empower NHS innovation and tech. But this is not just about the NHS – we must seize the opportunity to modernise the approach to tech across social care, too, or that sector will fall even further behind the investment and modernisation that the NHS is enjoying.

We also know that environment is a key determinant of health… but the link needs to be stronger so that a high quality sustainable living environment exists for all. We lead the way with NHS NetZero commitments. We should lead the way by influencing more nations to commit to targets.

We are in a time of significant change… The aim is to “build back better” for a fairer, fit for purpose sustainable system. But the detail is lacking on how this is to be achieved. Scrutiny of plans and legislation will be key. The government is now steering us out of the pandemic crisis but it has a mountain to climb in some policy areas if we are to learn the lessons from COVID19 and achieve a fit for purpose health and social care system for the future.