The government’s health reforms still present an “unacceptably high risk to the NHS” warns the leader of the British Medical Association (BMA) ahead of the Bill’s third reading in the House of Commons.
BMA Council chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum (pictured) has written to all MPs today (2 September) arguing the Bill threatens the NHS’ ability to operate “effectively and equitably, now and in the future”.
While the BMA acknowledges the government’s efforts in addressing concerns around the Bill, the association believes the Bill should be withdrawn or be subject to further “substantial amendments.”
The report stage and third reading of the Health and Social Care Bill for England will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday (6 and 7 September), after which the Bill moves to the House of Lords.
In his letter to MPs, Dr Meldrum writes that there “continues to be an inappropriate and misguided reliance on market forces to shape services” with the Bill embedding “a more central role for choice without a full consideration of the consequences, including the potential to destabilise local health economies.”
“Every health system in the developed world faces the challenges of rising demand, an ageing population and increasing costs of treatment,” said Steve Field, chair of the NHS Future Forum in response to Dr Meldrum’s claims.
“These challenges will not be met by the NHS doing more of the same. They require a culture that centres on patients and makes better value of available resources.”
Field added the Future Forum was pleased the government listened to concerns and put forward over 180 amendments to the Bill.
“The old hospital based system has to develop into a more preventative, community based system,” he said.
Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), said the government’s intentions to protect patients interests and ensure doctors and nurses take the lead in the decision making process are sound.
The RCP has publicly voiced its support for the plan to put clinicians at the heart of reconfiguration decisions as it believes they are best placed to understand the health service needs of their local communities.
However, Thompson still remains unsure of the issue of access.
“There are some issues on which the RCP would like clarity,” he said.
“The government wants reconfiguration decisions to involve the local community as their support is necessary.
“However, local preferences about the location and quantity of services must be balanced against regional and national need and affordability. It is unclear how this will be achieved.”
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