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RCGP calls for Health Bill withdrawal

3 February 2012

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The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called for the complete withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.

The College fears the reforms will cause “irreparable damage to patient care and ultimately bring about the demise of a unified NHS”.

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada recently told MiP that the ongoing discussions with the DH were “not working” as the government appeared to be “re-badging controversial terms”, rather than causing any significant change.

The government’s late amendments, released 1 February proved “nothing had changed”, said Dr Gerada, despite talks between the college and ministers spanning 18 months.

“This decision was not taken lightly, but it is clear that the College has been left with no alternative,” said Dr Gerada.

“We have taken every opportunity to negotiate changes for the good of our patients and for the continued stability of the NHS, yet while the government has claimed that it has made widespread concessions, our view is that the amendments have created greater confusion.

“We remain unconvinced that the bill will improve the care and services we provide to our patients.”

The RCGP has written to Prime Minister David Cameron, pleading with him to halt the “damaging, unnecessary and expensive” reorganisation.

“It is disappointing Dr Gerada has taken this step, but it hardly comes as a surprise given her outspoken opposition to our plans to improve the NHS,” said Health Minister Simon Burns.

“Any reform causes controversy and there is always going to be disagreement about the best way to modernise the NHS. But only yesterday the Family Doctor Association, representing over 1000 member practices in the UK, came out in support for our plans to hand power to doctors and nurses.

“We have been carefully listening to the ideas raised as the Bill has progressed through Parliament, and as a result we tabled a series of amendments to safeguard the future of the NHS.” 

The RCGP joins the British Medical Assication (BMA), Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwifery, unions Unite and Unison and the Royal College of Radiologists in calling for the withdrawal of the Health Bill.

“The RCGP statement seeking withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill surely scotches, once and for all, the government’s claims that there is professional support for this deeply flawed, damaging and unnecessary legislation,” said Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the BMA Council.

“While GPs and other clinicians support the concept of clinically-led commissioning, they do not believe that this expensive upheaval of the health service is needed to achieve that.

“If the prime minister really wants to put clinicians in control he should listen to what they are saying – louder and louder each day – and put this increasingly confused legislation out of its misery.”

Do you think the Health Bill should be scrapped? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“My concern is what is the alternative? We are so far down the line with the changes now, so what would happen if this is scrapped I think the confusion from that would be even worse. Would it mean going back to the status quo as it existed with the PCTs if so our PCT has lost the majority of staff through voluntary redundancy a very costly exercise. What will happen to all of the CCG set up which is now in place will this discontinue. I really think that we will end up in a worse mess and put the NHS at even greater risk now to just scrap the Bill. The politics of all of this has really created a massive amount of confusion already and so I think all NHS staff should be consulted to understand what good practice has evolved already as an alternative to what we had before and ensure that this remains and that we dont end up ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater'” – Maureen Kersley, Durham

“Yes, the changes are costing more than what they are meant to be saving and we are losing some very experienced people. The government doesn’t know what happens on the ground and in my opinion this is them working towards Privatising the NHS. The staff moral is low but they still drive to try to improve the services and make cuts and yet the government don’t recognise this. I would like to understand how the government are taking cuts to improve the economy!” – Sally Pern, Northumberland