Leak reveals government 'panic'. . . Group backs reforms. . . 'Dirty tricks' accusation at DoH. . .HEA shake-up anger. . . BMA scrutinises contract. . .
Leaked papers from a meeting of regional officers spearheading the establishment of trusts highlight government panic at losing the propaganda war. They refer to 'major concern at the centre' that health staff and the public have not been convinced of the benefits of the reforms.
It warns that 'misinformation abounds' and that views are being formed by the media, 'not proactively by NHS managers'.
The Health Reform Group, launched last week, claims to have 250 members, mostly consultants and GPs, in favour of the internal market reforms. Though it says it is non-partisan, two of its seven-strong executive are members of the Conservative Medical Society. Chair Richard Lilford said the reforms contained nothing that would not be acceptable to a moderate social democratic government.
Ambulance unions claim the Department of Health has launched a 'dirty tricks' campaign to undermine their popularity in the three-month-old pay dispute. A NUPE spokesman cited the DoH's£200,000 advertising campaign and London managers' claims that crews had refused to answer 999 calls. Health secretary Kenneth Clarke warned the Commons that the dispute would speed up the contracting out of non-emergency transport services.
Staff at the Health Education Authority are in dispute over a planned reorganisation which includes abolition of the HEA's AIDS division. Chief executive Spencer Hagard denied the plan was put together at the DoH's insistence, and said: 'There will be no job losses, which isn't to say people won't choose this as a moment to move on in their careers'.
Grassroots GPs have forced the British Medical Association into seeking a second opinion on the legality of the government's new contract, which has been imposed on them. The move followed doubts expressed by Lord Denning.