The medical royal colleges have today issued a joint statement to peers expressing concern the Health Bill “could damage patient care”, as a Royal College of GPs survey reports strong opposition among the profession.
The briefing coordinated by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is the strongest made so far on behalf of all the organisations. Their views have so far differed on much of the reforms. The academy said it is “particularly concerned that patient care could suffer if the reforms designed to promote competition aren’t checked”.
It said: “Too much emphasis is being placed on competition and choice at the expense of integrating patient care and that this may widen rather than reduce health inequalities.”
The briefing calls for the Lords to establish a select committee to “examine the potential effect of the proposals on health inequalities”. It also calls for changes to public health proposals and for the government to implement a promised “duty for the secretary of state to maintain a system for professional education and training”.
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chair Sir Neil Douglas said: “Across the medical profession there are continuing concerns that the Health and Social Care Bill could damage patient care. All the medical royal colleges and faculties representing the whole medical profession have come together to support this clear statement of our anxieties.”
Meanwhile, the RCGP published a “snap” internet survey of 1,900 members. College chair Clare Gerada has been one of the most vociferous critics of the plans.
Asked whether they agreed with those who have “proposed that the Health and Social Care Bill should be withdrawn”, 45.6 per cent of respondents said they strongly agreed, and 29 per cent said they agreed.
Asked whether they thought the bill would lead to “better patient care”, only 4 per cent “strongly agreed”. Fifty-two per cent “strongly agreed” it would lead to “increased involvement of the private sector”.
However, asked whether “you personally wish to be involved on the board of a commissioning group”, 16.1 per cent said yes and 15.7 per cent said they were undecided. If that attitude were repeated across the country, there would be several thousands of GPs willing to be heavily involved, likely to be more than enough.
Of the 306 who said they did wish to be involved, 48 per cent said they were “excited” about the role. Only 17.6 per cent said they “have sufficient time allocated to do this” and 17 per cent felt “sufficiently resourced” for it.
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has also reiterated its opposition to the bill.
It said it could have a “serious and detrimental impact upon the NHS and the delivery of patient care”, as it published a briefing for peers. The RCN called for mandatory regulation of all healthcare support workers, among other areas of concern.
RCN executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies said: “These reforms have the potential to destabilise NHS services by unfairly gearing the market towards private providers and preventing integration of services.”