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Health Bill – PRimage comment

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

PRimage has heard that on the day that the British Medical Association votes to launch a public campaign which calls for the withdrawal of the Government’s controversial Health Bill, a survey of 500 GPs shows 85% said they had not been reassured by the government’s response to the listening exercise, with a further 62% saying their support for the reforms has not been altered by the changes to the Health Bill.

We were interested to see that many of the GPs concerns centered on the areas that as a healthcare lobbyist, Judy Viitanen believes are the very real and inherent issues around the Bill – such as increased bureaucracy in the NHS, the impact on patient care and the cost of the re-organisation.  What are your views?  We’d love to hear them.

Health Bill passes first stage in Parliament – PRimage comment

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, PRimage MD Judy Viitanen, has been following the progress and debate on the Government’s comprehensive reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill is a complex and far reaching piece of legislation, reflecting the wide ranging nature of the Government’s programme of reform for the NHS in England.

PRimage is largely supportive of the potentially positive elements of the reforms – we believe giving clinicians greater responsibility for commissioning and shaping local health services, increasing public and patient involvement, and putting a greater focus on improving public health are to be applauded. And it must not be forgotten that the NHS needs to find efficiency savings of £20 billion by 2014-15!  In our view it is important that the Government ensures that the new GP consortia are not forced to promote competition between providers – and instead are able to work collaboratively across primary and secondary care boundaries in order to improve services for patients.

As a former District Councillor, Judy Viitanen welcomes the Government’s aim of increasing local democracy in health and that it recognises the importance of health services and local authorities working more closely together for the benefit of patients and the public. That can only be a win:win scenario.

In recent weeks there has been mounting criticism of the reforms from health professionals. For example, the BMA has warned that patients will become ‘internal medical tourists’, with the wealthy shopping round for consortia that offer expensive or rare treatments.

Despite a raft of warnings and concerns, the government’s controversial Health Bill has passed the first stage of its journey through Parliament – with MPs voting 321 to 235 in favour at its second reading. PRimage was interested to see that no coalition MPs voted against the Bill.

The influential cross-party Health Select Committee has already voiced concern and warnings, saying that the ‘surprise’ decision to abolish PCTs had already led to poor decision-making and additional costs in the NHS. But yesterday the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed their concerns.  And last month David Cameron revealed that GP frustration with the NHS, the profession’s desire to do more and be more involved is the core motivation behind the Health Bill.

If that is the case, PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, wonders why Doctor’s union, the BMA is stepping up its opposition to the reforms, and has voted for a special representatives’ crisis meeting to discuss the Health Bill.

NHS Bill – A Healthy Prescription?: PRimage comment

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As PRimage see it there are pros and cons for this radical overhaul of the NHS. It’s a huge risk – and yes, of course it will bring massive organisational upheaval – but we should remember that the Govt needs to find 4% NHS efficiency savings a year for 4 years to keep up with rising demand!

The new policies will mean ministers essentially giving up day to day management of the service – opting instead to set annual priorities and measures of improved health outcomes for a national commissioning board. This board will performance-manage consortia of GPs to whom it will have to hand well over half the English NMS’s £100bn budget, with which to commission care locally. The worry is that this commissioning board will simply be a substitute DoH – but without a public health remit.

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, is a former District Councillor – and strong supporter of localism – so she’sencouraged by the policy to transfer much of public health to local authorities, who in turn will get strengthened scrutiny powers over GPs’ plans. And as a healthcare communicator and lobbyist, she is hoping that increased NHS investment in clinical care, and a focus on proactively improving health outcomes will help the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions – and ultimately bring swifter and better care closer to patients.