Changes to Health Bill are significant, but success will depend on detail, says BMA
(issued Tuesday 14 Jun 2011)
Commenting on the government’s announcement today (Tuesday 14 June 2011) on changes to the Health and Social Care Bill for England, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said:
“We are pleased that the government has accepted the Future Forum’s core recommendations, and that there will be significant revisions to the Health and Social Care Bill. We will need to look carefully at the details of the changes, but it seems clear that what we are likely to see is a very different Bill, and one which puts the reforms on a better track. There is much in the government’s response that addresses the BMA’s concerns, and many of the principles outlined reflect changes we have called for. The success of the reforms will very much depend on how the various elements link together and work on a practical level, and on how much they engage clinicians and patients locally.
“We welcome the shift in the role of Monitor away from promoting competition. However, while we have always supported the principle of greater choice for patients, it has to be workable. There will need to be robust safeguards to ensure that vital services are not destabilised by unnecessary competition.
“More detail is needed about the way clinical commissioning groups will operate in practice. While greater accountability and transparency around their decision-making processes are welcome, they should not be encumbered by bureaucracy.
“It is reassuring that the government recognises there are still a number of issues to work through. It is particularly important that dialogue continues on education and training and the development of incentives for commissioners. We look forward to continuing our discussions with the government to help ensure that NHS reform is best for patients and workable for staff. Hanging over all this, however, is the fact that the NHS is facing unprecedented financial pressures. The focus on structural reform must not distract us from the task of minimising the impact of funding cuts on care.”
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