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RCGP Chair will continue Health Bill talks

23 January 2012

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The Chair of the RCGP has vowed to continue talks with the government on the Health Bill, despite revealing the College’s concerns are largely being dismissed.

Dr Clare Gerada told MiP the ongoing discussions with the DH are “not working” as the government appears to be “re-badging controversial terms”, rather than causing any significant change.

She also criticised Health Secretary Andrew Lansley for his comments made in the wake of the nursing and midwifery opposition to the bill.

“When we do raise concerns, we are told we either have vested interests (pay and pension) or we do not understand the bill,” she said.

“These are ridiculous comments and are overwhelmingly patronising to the medical profession.”

Despite the stalling of such discussions, the RCGP has shied away from joining the British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in outright opposition to the bill.

Dr Gerada said there are no plans to issue the DH any “ultimatums” nor are there any fixed time periods set to seek changes.

“The problem with outright opposition is that there is no way back,” she said.

A recent RCGP survey on the Health Bill suggests the majority of its members would like to see the reforms withdrawn.

Direct opposition to the bill also came close to being put to a vote during an RCGP Council meeting in September 2011, but was blocked on a technicality.

A motion to vote on full opposition to the Health Bill was blocked by members on a technicality during an RCGP Council meeting in September 2011.

The motion, put forward by an unnamed GP, was submitted outside of the 14 day window and was therefore voted down.

“A motion on the Health and Social Care Bill was put to the September 2011 RCGP Council Meeting by the South London faculty. The requirement is that motions for council are submitted at least 14 days before a meeting, but this motion was unfortunately submitted out of time,” said a spokesperson from the RCGP.

“Due to the urgency and significance of the subject matter, the Chair asked Council whether the motion should be debated. Some Council members objected as they had not had sufficient time to consider it and discuss at their local faculty level. 

“Following a vote, Council decided not to debate the actual motion, but to have a wider debate on the Health Bill during which the Chair, Dr Clare Gerada received widespread support for the stance she and the College had taken in raising the RCGP’s concerns with Government.”

The motion was not put forward again, despite the Council meeting again in November.

In the face of such change and confusion, Dr Gerada has implored GPs to work together to “keep the show on the road”.