Responding to the Queen’s speech, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said:
'Today’s Queen’s speech shows a welcome recognition by the government that COVID-19 will cast a long shadow over the NHS. But the scale and depth of impact of the pandemic on the NHS is immense. The Health and Care Bill may help improve collaboration between services but it will not fix the most urgent issues facing the service, with critical workforce shortages and a huge backlog of unmet need for care. Without significant investment in the workforce, infrastructure and technology, the backlog won’t be addressed quickly and the public will experience avoidable long waits for care.
'It is a huge disappointment that the government still has no plan for social care, letting down the many people needing social care support, their families, social care staff and providers. The Treasury’s objection that reform is unaffordable does not stand up to scrutiny, with pragmatic and workable solutions on the table that would cost just 2% of what we currently pay for the NHS. Given the weight of the case for change, the question is not whether social care reform is affordable but whether the government can afford to delay progress on an issue that could become its Achilles heel.
'The government’s stated desire to address inequalities through the levelling up agenda is welcome but plans for skills, jobs and infrastructure need to be delivered in ways that will improve the health and wellbeing of people across the UK. More than a third of 25-to 64-year-olds in the areas of England with the lowest healthy life expectancy are unable to work because of illness or disability. A lot of ill health is avoidable, and a healthy population is a key asset for long-term economic recovery. Direct investment in early years and family support, education, employment, housing and communities is crucial to improve health and ‘level up’ opportunity and prosperity for people living in all parts of the country.'
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