Responding to the Health and Care Act receiving Royal Assent, Hugh Alderwick, Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:
'The passing of the Health and Care Act is the biggest legislative shake up of the NHS in a decade, but does little to address the major pressures on health and care services right now.
'The Act’s aim of encouraging collaboration between different parts of the health system to improve local services is welcome – and goes with the grain of what the NHS and local government is already trying to do. But the potential benefits of these changes should not be overstated and the new NHS structure risks being complex and vague.
'The Act’s has some gaping holes. Staffing shortages are an existential threat to the future of the NHS, yet government failed to use the Act to ensure that independent projections of future staffing needs are produced to support better planning. This is a mistake. And government’s amendments on social care reform make plans for a cap on care costs far less fair and generous than originally expected. Poorer people with lower wealth will be hit hardest – and some will still face crippling social care costs.
'Standing back, the Act helps cement a shift away from competition within the NHS but will do little to tackle the major challenges facing health and care in England – including a massive backlog of unmet need, chronic workforce shortages, and growing pressures on services. Local areas will need to be given the time and resources to implement the changes and minimise potential disruption.'