The Queen’s Speech: what it means for people with arthritis

Graciela, a lady with arthritis, lifting weights.

On Monday 14 October, the Government set out plans for the future of parliament. Here’s an overview of their proposals for the NHS, social care, medicines, science and research.

The State Opening of Parliament is the only regular occasion when the three parts of our Parliament – the Queen, the House of Lords and the House of Commons meet.

This event marks the start of a new Parliamentary session. The Queen’s Speech is a summary of the Government’s plans for the session ahead, including proposed policies and legislation.

This Queen’s Speech, on Monday 14 October 2019, covered eight areas - including Brexit, crime, support for families and national infrastructure. Our policy team have looked at what is means for people with arthritis:

NHS

Government said it will publish draft legislation to accelerate the NHS long-term plan, ‘transforming patient care and future-proofing our NHS’.

This will be based on recommendations put forward by the NHS in September, which focus on changes to the ways services are provided (competition rules), and the roles of new structures called Integrated Care Systems (ICS) which aim to coordinate care for their local populations. This may require changes to the NHS Constitution that sets also out patients’ rights.

As NHS England’s clinical review of NHS access standards continues, we’re working to ensure people have timely access to joint replacement surgery and that their right to access surgical treatment within 1 weeks from referral is retained in the NHS Constitution.

Social care

Despite the PM’s promise ‘to fix social care once and for all’, Government did not bring forward any plans for legislative reform. They only committed to ‘bring forward proposals to reform adult social care in England to ensure dignity in old age’ and plans to allow councils to raise more money locally to fund services.

Together with the Care and Support Alliance, we want proposals for social care reform to be available for consultation as soon as possible.

Government should also make sure that the views of working age adults and carers are considered.

Mental health

The Government has committed to publishing a White Paper by the end of 2019, to pave the way for reform of mental health legislation and to respond to the independent review of the Mental Health Act (1983).

This is an opportunity for the relationship between mental and physical health to be recognised, particularly the high rates of mental health problems among people with musculoskeletal conditions.

Medicines and medical devices

The Government intends to develop a Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, with the aim of ensuring the UK ‘remains at the forefront of the global life sciences industry’; giving patients faster access to medicines and allowing the UK to lead in rare diseases research.

The Bill would include a scheme to improve safety by registering on-line medicines sales and expanding the range of professionals who can prescribe low-risk medicines.

We welcome all efforts to accelerate the development of new treatments in the UK, but this must not be at the expense of those authorised by other regulators, including the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Science and research

The Government committed to ‘establishing the UK as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology’. The ambition to reach a spend of 2.4% of GDP on research and development (R&D) by 2027 was restated and will be supported by funding plans in Autumn 2019.

There are also intentions to establish more open visa system for scientists. This is positive news, however, it is vital that investment supports the UK’s research charities who provide almost half of UK public medical research funding.

Both Houses of Parliament have a chance to challenge the policy agenda during debates. Our Public Affairs team will be prompting MPs to ask questions in Parliament.

Read more information about our policy positions on work and employment and get involved by joining our campaigns network.