Doctors’ leaders have launched a new initiative to help patients understand NHS reforms.

The controversial Health and Social Care Act came into force on 1 April but many patients “aren’t getting the real story” about the changes to the health system and the pressure it is under, the British Medical Association said.

The union has launched a new website to help guide patients through the changes and how they might affect them on a personal level.

Changingnhs.com includes information about the reforms such as how services are funded and competition across the health service.

It also contains details of other aspects of the health service including the GP contract and out of hours services.

“The NHS is experiencing a period of profound change as it tries to absorb the impact of the Health and Social Care Act amid unprecedented pressure from rising patient demand and an increasingly tight financial climate” said Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA’s GP committee.

“General practice in particular is facing a testing time as it comes to terms with the introduction of clinical commissioning groups, imposed changes to the GP contract and continued pressure on out-of-hours services.

“GPs feel that our patients aren’t getting the real story about what is happening in the NHS which is why the BMA is launching this initiative. In a turbulent world, it is vital that GPs play a key role in giving patients the information they need about how their NHS is changing.

“We will be building on this initiative over the coming months, as we respond to the impact of the changes and pressures and as we seek to develop a positive way forward for general practice for our patients.”