The Care Bill is another part of the Government’s latest legislative programme announced through the recent Queen’s speech. It draws on various earlier reviews, including its responses to the Francis Inquiry and the Dilnot Commission.
The legislative proposals in the Bill include:
- reforming the legal framework for care and support;
- capping the costs that people will have to pay for care;
- requiring local authorities to investigate in cases where vulnerable adults are experiencing (or are at risk of) abuse or neglect, and where the needs of the adult make him or her unable to protect himself or herself from the abuse or neglect. “Abuse” is defined to include “financial abuse” such as theft or misuse of money or property, or being defrauded;
- requiring local authorities to establish a “Safeguarding Adults Board”, which will produce a safeguarding plan, report progress annually and conduct “safeguarding adult reviews” in cases where there is reasonable cause for concern;
- allowing “Ofsted-style” ratings for hospitals and care homes;
- new powers for the Chief Inspector of Hospitals;
- making it a criminal offence for providers to supply or publish false or misleading information;
- establishing Health Education England as an independent statutory body to assist local healthcare providers and professionals to take responsibility for educating and training their staff;
- establishing the Health Research Authority as an independent statutory body with responsibility for promoting research in health and social care, and streamlining the approvals process for such research. Amongst other matters, the HRA will have powers to recognise groups of persons who apply for recognition as Research Ethics Committees (RECs), to establish its own RECs, and to revoke or abolish RECs in specified circumstances.
The Government’s explanatory document states that the Bill “is far from being a mere compilation – it fundamentally reforms how the law works, prioritising people’s wellbeing, needs and goals so that individuals will no longer feel like they are battling against the system to get the care and support they need. It highlights the importance of preventing and reducing needs, and putting people in control of their care and support. For the first time, it puts carers on a par with those for whom they care.”
The Bill may be amended during the coming months as part of the parliamentary scrutiny process. Assuming it is passed, the Bill will come into force on a date yet to be specified.