A new Bill which aims to improve quality and public engagement in health and social care will officially be introduced to the National Assembly for Wales by Health and Social Services Minister Vaughan Gething today.
The Health and Social Care (Quality and Engagement) (Wales) Bill will embed a system-wide approach to quality in health for future generations. This will be achieved by reframing and broadening the existing duty of quality on NHS bodies, and placing an overarching duty on the Welsh Ministers in relation to their health service functions. This will ensure that when they make a decision they actively consider if it secures improvement in quality and outcomes.
Through the establishment of an organisational duty of candour, the Bill will support a culture of openness, transparency and candour that is widely associated with good quality care and further ensure NHS organisations are open and honest with patients and service users when things go wrong.
Its introduction builds on the work that has already been undertaken for transparency amongst NHS bodies in Wales, and supports an environment that is consistently learning and improving, whilst maintaining the trust and confidence of patients and service users.
The Bill will also see the creation of a new independent citizen voice body, which will replace the current Community Health Councils. This single body will represent the voice of the public and provide complaints advice and assistance for individuals in relation to their health and social care experience.
This reflects the aims of the Welsh Governments plan ‘A Healthier Wales’ by supporting the drive towards closer integration of health and social care and putting people’s voices at the heart of the design, delivery and improvement of services.
The Bill will also give Ministers the opportunity to appoint a Vice Chair on NHS Trust boards if they consider it appropriate to ensure consistency across Local Health Boards and Trusts, and strengthen leadership and governance arrangements.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said:
“In Wales, we are fortunate to enjoy some of the best health and social care services, provided by committed and compassionate staff at all levels. But we need to ensure quality is further embedded in the context of an open and learning culture, which listens to all voices in driving forward improvement.
“This Bill reinforces key priorities within our plan for health and social care, ‘A Healthier Wales’, which outlines how quality will be key to making the health and social care system in Wales both fit for the future and one which achieves value.”
The Bill will now begin its scrutiny process at the National Assembly for Wales and if passed will become law in summer 2020.