Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fightback begins over NHS plans

Patient The NHS is under going a major revamp
The government will attempt to wrestle back the initiative on its NHS reforms in England by launching a "listening exercise" later.
Prime Minister David Cameron will be joined by his deputy Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at the start of the two-month push.
They will aim to present a united front amid widespread criticism about plans.
The BBC understands they will rule out any U-turn, arguing change is necessary to ensure the NHS can meet demands.
They will say that while the health budget has been protected, the service still needs to make savings to keep pace with the rising pressures from factors such as the ageing population and cost of drugs.
Under the government's overhaul of the NHS, GPs are to be given control of much of the budget - allowing two tiers of management to be scrapped.
The NHS is also to be opened up to greater competition.
On Monday, Mr Lansley told the House of Commons he wanted to engage with people about the changes before the bill underpinning the reforms returns to Parliament in late spring.
The government has already acknowledged it is willing to make amendments.
But ministers - particularly at the Department of Health - still believe some of the reforms are being misunderstood.

Start Quote

This is also a question of making substantive changes to the legislation at the end of this two-month process”
Nick Clegg Deputy prime minister
During the next few months they will seek to convince people that the programme does not amount to the privatisation of the health service that some have claimed.
In particular, they will stress that the April 2013 deadline is not an absolute cut-off.
Instead, the national board, which will be headed by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, will have powers to take control of local services where GP consortia are judged to be not up to scratch.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Clegg said the government was serious about listening to the concerns.
"It is not just a question of presentation. This is also a question of making substantive changes to the legislation at the end of this two-month process."
He said changes would be made to the governance of GP consortia and to ensure that private companies do not 'cherrypick' the most profitable parts of the NHS.
One option being seriously considered is the idea of inviting other experts to get involved in the consortia.
This was proposed by the House of Commons' health committee on Tuesday.
'PR stunt' criticism
The cross-party group of MPs said involving the likes of hospital doctors, public health chiefs and councillors would improve accountability and decision-making.
But the listening exercise has been criticised by Labour.
Shadow health secretary John Healey said: "The test now is whether David Cameron will recognise the very wide concerns and respond with radical surgery to the health bill."
But he added that he remained doubtful, suggesting that the government had failed to listen during the official consultation on the changes and during debates in Parliament.
"The pause looks suspiciously like a PR stunt to quell the coalition of criticism."

Post a Comment