Intended for healthcare professionals


Reaction: what they say about the health bill

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d413

The Health and Social Care Bill, presented to parliament by secretary of state Andrew Lansley on 19 January (see BMJ 2011;342:d418 doi 10.1136/bmj.d418), has been described variously in media as the “most radical pro-market shake up in its history” and “a natural continuation of structural reforms that have been running, at various speeds, for two decades.” Here, we round up reactions to the bill.

King’s Fund

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said: “GPs are well placed to understand the needs of their patients so giving them a leading role in commissioning services makes sense. By strengthening the link between clinical and financial decision making it could lead to improvements in patient care and could make services more efficient.

“But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. Finding the £20bn (€24bn; $32bn) in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.”

Royal College of General Practitioners

Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Depending on how the reforms are implemented, we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private, and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs.

“While we recognise the principle of patient choice—and know that many patients value being given access to information and choices about their healthcare—the government needs to strike a much fairer balance between the rights of the individual and the efficiency and effectiveness of the NHS as a whole, as well as …

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