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Lansley defends reform plans

25 October 2010

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Planned healthcare reforms have been defended by health secretary Andrew Lansley after it was revealed that just one in four doctors think changes will benefit patient care.

A survey reported in The Guardian shows that only 23% of doctors think the reforms will lead to improvements in standards.

But 25% feel that the changes will not lead to better care and 15% strongly disagree that it will enhance services.

While 40% think that the planned reforms will mean that patients will no longer get superior care.

The opinions of the healthcare professionals are revealed in the survey commissioned by the King’s Fund health think tank.

The 500 GPs and 500 hospital doctors who were questioned were not just random respondents but were chosen for the survey as they were representative, which makes the results significant, it added.

Doctors are warning that the NHS cannot make the £20bn of savings by 2014 that ministers expect, while simultaneously undertaking a reorganisation that will see England’s 152 PCTs abolished and consortiums of GPs assume responsibility for the commissioning of services for patients, the newspaper reported.

About 45% in the survey said it would be impossible for the NHS to keep its focus on improving efficiency while implementing that and other reforms. Only 22% thought the NHS could do both at once.

Mr Lansley said: “Reform isn’t an option, it’s a necessity in order to sustain and improve our NHS. The reforms are far reaching but they also build upon existing designs.

“But we recognise with any significant changes, there may be concerns – that is why we have been consulting on the details.

“We know there is an appetite to understand better what the reforms will mean in practice for individual organisations and patients. That is why we have already announced a programme where GP consortia can start testing these principles.

“Our plans give the NHS and patients a clear direction for the next five years and beyond. We believe that both purpose and pace are vital to improve services for patients.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010