PRimage has been busy assessing reactions from various healthcare bodies to the NHS Bill, announced this afternoon … Lansley has had to contend with a huge amount of criticism of his NHS reforms, much of it dramatically expressed, by many of they key organisations representing doctors and other NHS organisations. Public supporters have been hard to find amongst the host of warnings and reservations! Judy Viitanen especially enjoyed the Titanic analogy used by Unison, who said that the Health Bill is a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’ and which threatens to sink our NHS”
Here’s a listing of top line sound bites …
‘makes sense’ for health professionals to be involved in the planning of services, but the proposals risk ‘destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’
‘we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs’.
Patient choices as outlined in the Bill ‘run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’. The RCGP has also yet to receive sufficient evidence to be reassured the plans would prevent this from happening.
The BMA said ploughing ahead with the reforms at the speed proposed was a ‘massive gamble’.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: ‘The BMA supports greater involvement of clinicians in planning and shaping NHS services, but the benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the Bill.’
‘Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.
‘Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.’
Royal College of Physicians
Supports the shift towards putting clinicians and patients in the driving seat but is concerned the Bill doesn’t require specialists to be at the heart of commissioning.
‘The scale and pace of change – and the challenge of unprecedented efficiency savings – should not be underestimated. Neither should the risks if we get this wrong.’
The public sector union, called the Health Bill a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’. Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This Titanic health bill threatens to sink our NHS. The only survivors will be the private health companies that are circling like sharks, waiting to move in and make a killing.
‘Lansley has turned his back on the warnings from across the medical establishment that these changes are unnecessary, undemocratic and unlikely to deliver improvements in patient care. We need a U-turn from the Government.’
Bill is ‘a charter for private profit at the expense of patients care’.
‘It is clear that one of the biggest influences on Tory ideology regarding health policy has been the massive and insidious lobbying by the private healthcare companies, which have opened their cheque books for David Cameron big-time.’
‘The GP consortia, the supposed vanguard of this so-called reform programme, will be juggling financial decisions with the help of the private healthcare companies they will buy-in, versus the needs of their patients – this is a stark conflict of interest. Patients should always come first.’
The Nuffield Trust
Reforms are ‘broadly in the right direction’ but they will have to be judged on the extent to which they deliver – with minimum disruption – sustained improvements to patient care during a period of major financial challenge for the NHS.
‘The NHS is at a fork in the road. It embarks on this period of reform with much strength but the pressures it faces over the next four years will continue to rise. ‘Given the reforms over the past 20 years the Government’s decision to devolve more responsibility to the front line is logical. However, this approach carries significant risks in today’s financial climate and needs to be managed very carefully.’
General Healthcare Group
The UK’s largest private hospital group, welcomed the proposed reforms and said it was ‘only right’ the NHS, private and third sector providers worked together in austere times.
‘In our view, the challenge for instituting these reforms will be about maintaining the pace of change and how instability during the period of transition is minimised.’
The King’s Fund
The Bill signals the biggest shake-up of the NHS since its inception
‘But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. ‘Finding the £20bn in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.’
Urged MPs to ‘forensically analyse’ the Health Bill.
‘We support the objectives behind this legislation but there are huge risks and major uncertainties associated with it. ‘The system is already geared up for change and we can not afford for these reforms to fail – the public will not forgive us. The focus in parliament has to be on making this work on behalf of patients.’
‘We support the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS, because this will lead to better services for patients, and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. ‘Allowing the best provider to deliver healthcare services, whether they are a private company or a charity, will spur innovation and choice. But bidders must be able to compete for contracts on a level playing field.’