Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has written to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt urging him to listen to the concerns of the head of the NHS made at the recent Royal College of GPs (RCGP) conference in Glasgow.
According to the Observer, NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson voiced concerns about increasing GP responsibilities under the reforms at the RCGP conference on 5 October 2012.
He said the NHS would encounter a “massive problem” should GPs feel it is “their job” to negotiate with private health providers.
“If we are creating a system where general practitioners feel it is their job to do all that, then I think we have a massive problem,” he said.
“We need to create the right kind of people with the right kind of skills, which we are trying to do at the moment through commissioning support, to enable people to focus their attention on clinical decision-making.”
Nicholson also warned GPs against “carpet bombing” the NHS with competition and claimed it was best used like a “rifle shot” to fix problems – a sentiment shared by the Chair of the Health Select Committee Stephen Dorrell.
“The crisis of confidence in the Government’s reorganisation gets deeper by the day,” said Burnham.
“People will be worried to hear the man charged with implementing the Government’s NHS reorganisation openly questioning it and predicting it could end in ‘misery and failure’.
“We knew there were widespread professional concerns about Government plans to turn the NHS into a free market but it is now clear they go to the very top.
“At this critical moment, the NHS can’t afford to have its Chief Executive and the Health Secretary in open disagreement. Jeremy Hunt should take a One Nation approach and listen to a man of David Nicholson’s experience in the NHS. He should call a halt to the expansion of the Any Qualified Provider process and the top-down privatisation of NHS services.”
A Department of Health spokesperson told the Observer: “David Nicholson was speaking in favour of increased autonomy of our NHS and about strong local leadership of healthcare, which is something the government supports.”