Tuesday, 22 March 2011


The Health and Social Care Bill outlining radical restructure of the National Health Service was introduced to parliament on 19 January 2011. It still has to be passed through the House of Lords – so dear Lords and Ladies, if you read nothing else before you debate the Bill, please read this…

This blog outlines a time line of disappointment – these are some of the organisations who have so far spoken out in opposition to some or all of the reforms outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill.

17 January 2011
·                 British Medical Association
·                 Royal College of Nursing
·                 Unison (public service trade union)
·                 Unite (the UK’s biggest union)
·                 Royal College of Midwives
·                 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

In a letter to the Times the above organisations stated  ‘The sheer scale of the ambitious and costly reform programme, and the pace of change, while at the same time being expected to make £20 billion of savings is extremely risky and potentially disastrous’

19 January 2011
·                 Royal College of Psychiatrists

Press release: ‘We are particularly concerned that in some areas the new structures will not have the skills or expertise to support mental health commissioning’

22 January 2011

·                 Lord Robert Winston Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College,

‘I do not believe that handing a £100 billion budget to the staff of the health service, who are least qualified and interested in handling it, is a wise decision, GPs are really important. But what they should be doing is listening to patients and they will be increasingly distracted by running the service’

·                 Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)

John Black, president of the RCS said its members were concerned that hospital clinicians would not be consulted in the future, adding: “…The bill leaves the question of regional-level commissioning unanswered, with no intermediary structure put in place.  The legislation does not make explicit provision for secondary-care clinicians to input at the National Commissioning Board and local consortia levels. ‘

·                 Patients’ Association

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: “Our members are deeply concerned by the lack of detail in the bill with regard to how the reforms will work. There are too many unanswered questions and too many loose threads….. Will GPs spend too much time being managers and not enough time with their patients? And how can we ensure that clinical decisions are made on the basis of what is best for the patient, rather than what is best for the consortium’s bank balance? 

1 February 2011

·                 Royal College of General Practitioners

RCGP Survey highlights GP concerns over NHS Reforms. More than half of GPs responding to a snapshot survey carried out by the RCGP ‘are concerned that the proposed health reforms will not lead to improvements in care for patients’

8 February 2011
·                 The Alzheimer's Society
·                 Asthma UK
·                 Breakthrough Breast Cancer
·                 Diabetes UK
·                 National Voices
·                 Rethink
·                 The British Hearth Foundation
·                 The Stroke Association.

In a letter to the Times, these eight leading health charities warned that the government's NHS reforms ‘could mean that patients end up with less say over services in their local area’ and ‘the proposed scrutiny arrangements - local authorities are being put in charge of monitoring GP consortia …… the lines of accountability would be too weak’.

17 February 2011
·                 Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

‘We …..have a number of reservations and concerns about certain aspects of the Bill. In particular, we are seeking clarification on funding arrangements for public health and are making the case – along with our partners – for a managed transition arrangement which avoids loss of expertise and a clearer idea of what goes where. We must also remember that over the past decade some excellent work has been done in the health care system, resulting in real health improvements and outcomes’

3 March 2011
·                 The Kings Fund (healthcare think tank)

 Services such as A&E, maternity, neonatal and specialist heart and stroke care needed to be run from fewer sites. without such steps patients could be put at risk’ and it warned ‘the NHS reforms could make it more difficult to get it right’

12 March 2011
·                 Liberal Democrats

At the Spring Conference the Lib Dems passed a motion criticising proposals to put GPs in charge of 89% of the annual NHS budget with Baroness Shirley Williams stating that ‘the changes are ‘lousy’’

15 March 2011
These seven leading organisations attacked the public health agreement between the government and the food and drink industry.

·                 Alcohol Concern
·                 Cancer Research UK
·                 Diabetes UK
·                 Faculty of Public Health
·                 Consensus Action on Salt and Health
·                 National obesity forum
·                 Sustain (children’s health campaign)

Also on 15 March - The British Medical Association passed a motion to ‘halt the proposed top down reorganisation of the NHS’

This is by no means a definitive list, but may be a useful reminder for Andrew Lansley when he states ‘nothing about me without me’. The organisations above represent a significant number of ‘me’s’.

I am still advocating reasoned and constructive debate on the NHS reform plans, in the hope that sensible and workable amendments will be made. Please circulate ‘THE LIST ‘ as widely as you can and let me know if you are aware of additional organisations or notable commentators who have voiced their concerns.

Thank you.


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