What is the Health and Social Care Act 2008? (2024)

The health and social care act 2008 is an Act of Parliament that modernises and integrates the way that care services are delivered. It also strengthens duties on NHS organisations to tackle health inequalities.

The changes introduced by the Act are key to improving services for patients and delivering ambitions to improve population health and reduce inequalities. However, they will not address the immediate pressures on the health and care system.

1. What is the Act?

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 is a key piece of legislation that aims to make it easier for services to work together and deliver services in a more integrated way. It also puts the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in a stronger position to ensure that patients get safe and good-quality care and treatment.

The main change brought about by the Act is the formalisation of integrated care systems (ICSs). ICSs bring together providers and commissioners of NHS services across a geographical area to plan and deliver health and care services.

The CQC is responsible for regulating these ICSs and is required to comply with the requirements and fundamental standards set out in regulations made under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. However, these regulations are due to expire after 31 March 2022.

2. Who is the Act for?

The Act was introduced to make it easier for local health and social care organisations to work together. It also aims to reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 replaced strategic health authorities (SHAs) and primary care trusts (PCTs). It renamed NHS England as the national body to run the NHS and placed responsibility for commissioning at a national level in the hands of NHS England and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

It also created a new independent consumer champion called Healthwatch England, which would gather and share information about people’s experiences of health and social care services with national bodies such as Monitor and NHS England. This would help to identify improvements and national policy.

3. What is the Act’s purpose?

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 is an important piece of legislation that aims to improve health and care. It brings together a number of key changes that will help to make it easier for services to work together to provide better support and meet patients’ needs.

The Act formalises the integration of care, bringing together local organisations and other partners to plan and deliver services in a more joined-up way. This is vital for delivering ambitions to improve population health and reduce inequalities.

It also makes a range of changes to professional regulation, including reforms that will give patients and the public more confidence in the care they receive. It updates the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 with the aim of providing a more effective and proportionate response to infectious diseases.

4. What are the main changes brought about by the Act?

The main changes brought about by the Act are around integrating care, and how services are organised. This will help to improve population health and ensure that patients receive care that is personalised, effective and meets their needs.

There is also a move away from competitive procurement to a framework that supports collaboration. This means bringing providers and commissioners together into partnerships, known as integrated care systems (ICSs).

These changes can help to improve population health and patient experience, particularly for those living with multiple conditions. However, they will take time to take effect and it will depend on how well local organisations, leaders and clinical teams work together to implement them.

5. What is the Act’s impact?

The Act brings about a significant shift in the way health and care services are organised, placing collaboration, rather than competition, at the heart of how they are planned and delivered. This should help improve population health and patient experience, particularly for those with multiple long-term conditions.

However, this is a complex and long-term process, which will take time to implement. The implementation of this change will also depend on how effectively leaders and staff work together.

A key aim of the Act is to formalise integrated care systems (ICSs), which bring together different organisations, including NHS providers and commissioners, to plan and deliver health and care services. ICSs are now legally enforceable and have two statutory components: integrated care boards (ICBs) and integrated care partnerships (ICPs).

What is the Health and Social Care Act 2008? (2024)
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