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Exclusions to summit backed by NHS Alliance

22 February 2012

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The co-vice chair of the NHS Alliance has backed the Prime Minister’s decision to exclude the BMA and RCGP from his Health Summit earlier this week. 

Somerset GP Dr Donal Hynes was one of a handful of GPs to attend Monday’s (20 February) meeting with David Cameron to discuss the implementation of the government’s proposed Health Bill. 

Opponents of the reforms, including the BMA and RCGP, were not invited to attend. 

Dr Hynes told MiP he agreed the meeting was “quite clearly the appropriate forum” to discuss the implementation of certain aspects of the bill – such as clinical commissioning – as to extend the invitation to dissenting voices would have meant the meeting would have been dominated by discussions over whether the bill should be withdrawn. 

“The discussion over whether the Health Bill should be withdrawn was one for a different time and different place,” he said. 

“It was quite clearly the appropriate forum to talk about the implementation of certain aspects of the bill, such as clinical commissioning.” 

The RCGP expressed its “disappointment” over its exclusion from the PM’s Health Summit in a statement issued on Monday.

It pledged to “continue to work with the government whatever the outcome of the Health Bill” and hoped to be invited to further meetings.

Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the BMA Council, accused the government of engaging in “selective listening” in response to its lack of invitation.

Dr Hynes said Cameron was “certainly in a listening mood” and kept the meeting focused on the implementation of the reforms, while still answering questions on concerns over competition and choice. 

He said Cameron gave him “reassurance” that there would not be any “top-down demands” placed upon CCGs to act in certain ways and CCGs would have the autonomy to make the decisions for their local area in a way that they saw fit. 

“There was a feeling in the NHS Alliance that some of the CCG challenges and voices were being lost in the debate over the health bill’s survival,” said Dr Hynes. 

“I feel reassured they will now be addressed and there will be a stronger voice for the people who are working at the coalface to try and make clinical commissioning happen.” 

In his summary, Cameron said he was committed to “clarify the narrative of the Health Bill” and better describe the benefits of implementation – something he acknowledged has been lacking thus far.

By Louise Naughton