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Matheson criticises ‘focus’ of English Health Bill

1 March 2012

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Scotland’s public health minister has waded into the row over England’s controversial health reforms. 

Speaking exclusively to MiP at sister title’s Nursing in Practice‘s annual conference in Glasgow, Michael Matheson added to the chorus of Scottish MPs who have publicly criticised the English Government’s health reforms. 

He hinted that a higher inclusion of the private sector in the NHS would damage the chances of achieving integration of services. 

“We have always said we will not follow the lead of the English Government in its proposed health reforms,” said Matheson. 

“It is important to maintain the focus of an NHS that is wholly supported and delivered by the public sector if you want to fully achieve integration of health and social care services.” 

In a statement to MiP, a DH spokesperson insisted the integration of local NHS services could only be achieved through the government’s reforms. 

“Up and down the country we are already seeing Clinical Commissioning Groups deliver better care for patients,” said the DH spokesperson. 

“Only when we give nurses and doctors more power will we see integrated local NHS services tailored to patients so they can see who they want, where they want and when they need to.

“We have always made clear that we will never privatise the NHS and that competition will only be used to improve services for patients, never as an end in itself, and will take place on the basis of quality not price.” 

Matheson said the Scottish Government intends to introduce legislation to encourage integrated adult and social care through the creation of Health and Social Care Partnerships. 

He said the changes will focus on “making existing structures work more effectively, rather than structural reform”. 

Consultation on the proposed legislation will open in May 2012.

By Louise Naughton