Amongst its findings, the Committee highlighted the complexity of the current system, often “poorly understood even by those working within the system”, as well as noting the challenge of reorganising services in a more efficient manner in a political environment where every alteration is perceived as “a smokescreen for cuts”.
The inquiry also discussed fragmentation of authority within NHS structures, and struggle to fund upfront costs of reform without compromising stretched patient care, with the Committee describing the NHS as being in “survival mode”.
The Government’s response is broadly supportive of the Committee’s report, agreeing on the need for integration in order to improve efficiency, and welcoming the Committee’s supportive comments on transformation plans, as well as agreeing with the Committee that there is a pressing need to better convey the objectives and necessity of transformation plans. The Government also clarified their intended approach on several items, for example an incremental roll out of Integrated Care Providers (ICPs), which mirrors the recommendations of the Committee, and further integration and coordination between NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI).
However the response seems to provide few answers to the specifics of the inquiry report, with established Government policy, of which the Committee would have been well aware being largely restated. There is no indication in its response that the Government is inclined to commit additional ring-fenced resources to integration proposals as suggested by the Committee, nor that it would seek to pursue primary legislation to make ICPs statutory bodies or to cement cooperation between NHSE and NHSI.