Healthcare Brief December 2019: market insights

A summary of key developments, including an update on the first review of the discount rate under the Civil Liability Act 2018, the Code of Practice under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019, proposed healthcare legislation in the Queen’s Speech, the Care Quality Commission’s annual assessment of health care and social care in England, and the first World Patient Safety Day. 

The Civil Liability Act 2018: first discount rate review

On 15 July, the Lord Chancellor determined a new personal injury discount rate of minus 0.25% effective from 5 August 2019. The Ministry of Justice had previously signaled a likely outcome of between 0% and 1%. In practice, serious injury cases have been settling at levels based on a positive rate coming into force. The announcement of a negative rate is therefore surprising.

Contact: Christopher Malla

Related item: The new discount rate: a minus move

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019: update on the Code of Practice  

On 25 October 2019, following a question in the House of Lords, Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford responded to Baroness Barker’s written question, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government when consultation on the Code of Practice issued under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 will commence.”

Baroness Blackwood’s response stated that:

“We plan to start public consultation in the new year and the Code will be laid before both Houses ahead of the new Liberty Protection Safeguards system coming into force.” 

Contacts: Rob Tobin, Amanda Mead and Matthew Angus

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The Queen’s Speech

Although largely dominated by Brexit-related legislation Boris Johnson’s first Queen’s Speech (delivered on Monday 14 October 2019) also included new legislation of note for the healthcare sector. With Government now suspended and Bills that were previously introduced having now fallen away, we wait to see whether the two Bills set out below will be reintroduced, subject to the outcome of the General Election.

Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

The purpose of the Health Service Safety Investigations Bill (HSSI Bill), being to:

“Establish the world’s first independent body [the Health Service Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB)] to investigate patient safety concerns and share recommendations to prevent incidents happening.”

A draft of the Bill was originally published by the Government in September 2017, which was scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs and Peers, who supported the proposal to establish the HSSIB.

In an overview of the Bill published in October 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care (the DoHSC) noted that the Bill would:

“create a ‘safe space’ whereby participants can provide information to the HSSIB safe in the knowledge the information will not be shared with others, and only disclosed under certain limited circumstances as set out in legislation.

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill 

The Bill is a continuation of the government’s strategy of promoting the growth of the UK’s life sciences sector, ensuring that the UK “remains at the forefront of the global life sciences industry after Brexit” and takes a “lead role in global research to find cures for rare diseases and improve treatments for patients around the world”. 

Related item: The Queen’s Speech: the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill

Contact: Daniel Freeman, Samantha Silver, Paula Margolis

Care Quality Commission publish annual assessment of health care and social care in England

The report, published in October 2019 “sets out the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC’s) assessment of the state of care in England in 2018/2019.”

The foreword of the report notes that Generally, when people can access care, the quality is good. In most health and care services, the hard work and dedication of staff has helped to maintain quality. But people’s experience of care is seriously affected when it is hard to get the care they need”.

In this year’s assessment, the CQC has highlighted “mental health and learning disability services because that’s where we are seeing a particular impact on both quality and people”.

In this respect and as part of the steps required to address this, the report notes that:

“Complex commissioning arrangements can make it difficult for people to navigate and access the services they need. These fundamental issues need to be addressed in order to provide people with safe, responsive and high-quality mental health care.”

Contact: Ed Glasgow 

Inaugural World Patient Safety Day

17 September 2019 was the first World Patient Safety Day, an initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), with a global campaign “to create awareness of patient safety and urge people to show their commitment to making healthcare safer.”

The WHO providing a summary of the numerous global events held to highlight patient safety, including within the UK those held by the Department of Health and Social Care, universities, and a number of NHS Trusts who were amongst those observing the day with events and training. 

Contact: Christopher Malla

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