Access to healthcare – Government action
UK Government actions
- In August 2020, the Government announced plans to replace Public Health England with a new agency designed specifically to protect the country from pandemics, the National Institute for Health Protection.
- In July 2020, NHS England wrote to health system leaders setting out the need to prioritise the re-opening of health services that were restricted during the first wave of the pandemic.
- In May 2020, NHS England and the NHS Confederation confirmed the creation of a Race and Health Observatory to investigate the impact of race and ethnicity on people’s health.
- In April 2020, the UK Government announced £6 billion of funding for health services to support the pandemic response, including the purchase of ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- In March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 was passed, an emergency law that enabled retired health workers to return to work, changes to detention powers under the Mental Health Act 1983, public health measures, and provision to restrict new NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments.
- In June 2019, NHS England published its Interim NHS People Plan, a workforce development strategy to sit alongside the NHS Long Term Plan.
- An updated People Plan for 2020/21 was published in July 2020, which addressed the impact of the pandemic.
- In March 2019, NHS England published aninterim report on the Government-commissioned Clinically-Led Review of NHS Access Standards, proposing significant changes to waiting time standards for planned and emergency care.
- The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, commits to addressing health inequalities; greater integration of health and social care, through the development of Integrated Care Systems; and improving access to services, through the development of Primary Care Networks, urgent treatment centres, greater digital access, and increased community support.
- In June 2018, the UK Government announced a new funding settlement for the NHS of £20.5 billion in real terms – an average 3.4% increase per year to 2023-24.
- In July 2017, the UK Government introduced an amendment to the NHS charging regime to require those people who are overseas visitors, mostly migrants, to pay up front for non-urgent care.
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on access to healthcare.
Welsh Government actions
Access to healthcare is a devolved matter to the Welsh Government.
- In August 2020, the Welsh Government announced £800 million in funding to help NHS Wales respond to the pandemic and increase access to essential services.
- In August 2020, the Welsh Government announced a 12-month extension of the Integrated Care Fund and Transformation Fund until April 2022.
- In March 2020, the Welsh Government suspended non-urgent outpatient appointments, surgical admissions and procedures, and in April 2020 published core values for healthcare planning and decision-makingduring the pandemic.
- In 2019, the Welsh Government introduced a single waiting time target for cancer patients.
- In June 2018, the Welsh Government published A Healthier Wales, a national plan for health and social care to improve the accessibility of healthcare services, including by ensuring services are better coordinated and personalised to individual needs – a £100 million Transformation Fund was created to support the plan’s implementation.
- Between 2016 and 2019, the Welsh Government published a number of plans and programmes reduce health inequalities and remove barriers to accessing healthcare for different groups including a Transgender Action Plan (2016), a policy entitled ‘Enabling Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers (GRT) (2018), the Learning Disability Improving Lives programme (2018), and a Refugee and Asylum Seeker Plan (2019).
Read our assessment of the Welsh Government’s progress on access to healthcare.