The College of Podiatry's response to the Queen's Speech

Queen's Speech
healthcare workforce
social care reform
We urge the Government to invest properly in the current and future healthcare workforce, for a health and care system to be proud of.
This morning the Queen opened the next parliamentary session from the House of Lords, by delivering her speech to Parliament, in which she highlighted 30 laws that the government will seek to pass through Parliament in the coming year.

The speech outlined the Government’s priorities for the forthcoming year; of specific interest to the College was health and education. The speech outlined the Government’s priorities: to continue with the vaccination programme, provide additional funding to the NHS, and further support integrated healthcare systems.

What was not made clear in the speech, to a UK Parliament, was that much of what was outlined was specific to England - health and education are devolved to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The speech also mentioned plans to address mental health, obesity, and cancer, providing care closer to home. Like most Queen’s speeches, it was short on detail. The College hopes this will amount to proper investment in Community Health Services, beginning with serious negotiations with the trade unions to ensure healthcare professionals are properly renumerated.

The speech also set out the Government’s ambition for increased public funding for research and development, and to establish an advanced research agency, pioneering new treatments, mentioning cancer. We look forward to hearing how the new body will benefit the sector and interact with NIHR.

The Queen said that proposals on the reform of social care will be brought forward. In 2019 the Prime Minister said that he had a ready plan for social care. For an integrated health and care system to function effectively all parts of that system must work in equilibrium with the others.

College CEO Steve Jamieson said, 

"The Government has yet again kicked the burning issue of social care reform into the long grass. Podiatrists working in all parts of the healthcare system, from Community to Acute, and independent sector to Acute, are all working within a system that is straining through years of under investment. We urge the Government to invest properly in the current and future healthcare workforce, for a health and care system to be proud of."

We await to see how these statements will be transformed into legislation with clear levels of investment to make them realistic. The speech did not mention the many issues affecting the NHS today, such as the dire need for a long-term investment to train and retain staff, the two-and-a-half-year elective surgery waits, and the need for an acceleration in investment in technologies to enable an improvement in care.