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Healthy Living and Social Care

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

In November 2012, the Department launched the healthy living and social care theme of the red tape challenge. The Department sought comments on regulations affecting business and civil society through the red tape challenge website and responses from a range of different groups were received on a number of areas.

The Department looked at 555 regulations covering four areas: public health; quality of care and mental health; NHS; and professional standards. This builds on earlier work done to look at 255 regulations under the red tape challenge medicines theme.

We carefully considered the comments received through the red tape challenge website, alongside an internal audit of departmental regulations, the results of which have already been published. Using this information and running a rigorous challenge process we identified the healthy living and social care regulations that could be abolished or improved. I am proud to announce the results of this process here. Of the 555 regulations considered, the Department is proposing to abolish 128 regulations and improve 252 others. This means that 68% of the regulations under the healthy living and social care theme will either be abolished or improved.

The Department is responsible for key areas of public protection, and many of its regulations are therefore essential to protect patients and the public by ensuring essential standards are maintained. Nevertheless, we have actively embraced the regulatory reform agenda. There are a number of proposals the Department is looking to take forward, including:

simplifying a large number of professional standards regulations following the Law Commission’s recommendation;

working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to address the problem of duplication of inspections between the Care Quality Commission and local authorities through the focus on enforcement review of adult care homes;

updating the nursery milk regulations to make them fit for purpose to help effectively deliver a scheme that is efficient, sustainable, and gives better value for money;

improving the operation of the healthy start scheme, that provides vouchers for fruit and vegetables, milk and formula milk to low-income pregnant women and children under four. The Department will work with retailers to explore and implement practical ways to make the paper vouchers easier to handle by the end of 2015-16;

implementing the recommendations to review the human tissue legislation, which will potentially bring benefits to the regulated sectors through improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulators; and streamlining regulation; and

revoking the regulations which ban the sale of HIV home testing kits, and this is expected to benefit business significantly and have positive wider benefits for the public. The Department is taking forward work to implement this and other changes identified through the red tape challenge process by the end of this Parliament.

However, we do not want to stop there. Some of the comments the Department received through the red tape challenge related to non-regulatory issues. For example, comments received about the deprivation of liberty safeguards suggested that while the measures were important, the number and complexity of some of the forms made it difficult and time consuming for people to use them. In response the Department plans to tackle this in 2014 by both reducing the existing number of forms and redesigning them so that they are easier to use. Another non-regulatory improvement will be a reduction in the amount of unnecessary guidance issued by the Care Quality Commission when they introduce new fundamental standards of care, saving people time in familiarising themselves with it.

I am pleased with the outcomes of the healthy living and social care theme and the work that went into identifying regulations the Department can abolish or improve. The Department is committed to continue to look at how it can minimise burdens on both business and health care professionals. The Department is currently looking at opportunities to reduce burdens for those on the front line of healthcare and is engaging with relevant organisations and health professionals to progress this.

Details on the regulations the Department proposes abolishing or improving have been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed paper Office. The details can also be seen at: www.redtapechallenge.