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NHS Reforms – Key Stage Reached in Progress Through Parliament

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The Health and Social Care Bill 2011 proposes far reaching reforms of the National Health Service in the UK. These reforms include the creation of an independent NHS Board, improved patient choice and significant reductions in the costs of administration. The reduction in costs involves cutting the number of different health bodies responsible for health care provision including Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.

To pass into law a bill has to clear 5 distinct stages in both the Commons and the Lords before receiving Royal Assent. These stages are;

  1. First Reading
  2. Second Reading
  3. Committee Stage
  4. Report Stage
  5. Third Reading

The Bill has recently completed the Committee stage in the House of Commons, with 28 sittings of committee debate taking place between 8th February 2011 and 31st March 2011.

The date of the report stage, where members can consider and debate proposals for change, has yet to be announced but will clearly be delayed whilst the recently announced pause for public consultation takes place. This is such an important stage since proposals for further change cannot be made at the third reading in the House of Commons.

Critics argue that the bill requires further extensive debate and modification and in its current form the proposed legislation will actually worsen patient care and lead to cost escalation. Whatever the outcome, the Health and Social Care Bill is likely to become one of the most debated pieces of legislation ever placed before the House.

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