Royal College of GPs says bill will cause “irreparable damage” to patient care

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UNISON has welcomed the Royal College of GPs opposition to the government’s controversial health bill.

The RCGP, which represents 34,000 GPs in England, said that the reforms had to be stopped, because they threatened to cause “irreparable damage” to care.

UNISON welcomed the college’s opposition to the bill, which was in response to the latest amendments made by the government in its bid to ease the bill through parliament.

Head of health Christina McAnea said: “We have been campaigning for this destructive bill to be dropped since its launch, and the support of the GPs – the very people who are meant to be at the heart of carrying out these reforms – can only strengthen our campaign.

“GPs are joining nurses, midwives, support staff, allied health professionals, professional bodies and patients, all warning that this bill is a danger to the NHS as we know it,” Ms McAnea added.

“The bill will lead to fragmentation, instability and inequity in the NHS. It is wasting billions of taxpayers’ money in pointless bureaucracy, as health workers lose their jobs, waiting lists grow, and operations are cancelled.

“It is time that Lansley and Cameron listened to hard-working NHS staff and drop it.”

The chair of the British Medical Association council, Dr Hamish Meldrum, said that the RCGP statement “surely scotches, once and for all, the government’s claims that there is professional support for this deeply flawed, damaging and unnecessary legislation.”

Although the RCGP had been critical of the bill, its position until now was that it would work with ministers to improve it.

That is no longer the case. Today it became the first of the medical royal colleges to wholly oppose the bill, stating that its concerns over competition and bureaucracy had not been addressed.

The RCGP chair, Dr Clare Gerada, said: “The college was left with no alternative. We must once again raise our concerns in the hope that the prime minister will halt this damaging, unnecessary and expensive reorganisation which, in our view, risks leaving the poorest and most vulnerable in society to bear the brunt.”

Ms McAnea said that the latest raft of amendments demonstrated that “the government still hasn’t got the message.” Among UNISON’s concerns are that:

  • the amendments still do not provide sufficient clarity that the health secretary remains legally and politically accountable for the NHS;
  • the proposals to remove conflicts of interest at clinical commissioning groups go “nowhere near far enough” to reassure patients that high quality care will remain more important than the financial imperative;
  • attempts to balance competition with integration and cooperation remain woefully inadequate.

This new pressure on the government comes as the bill enters its report stage in the House of Lords, next week.

And on 7 March the growing coalition against the bill will be in evidence as health workers, professionals, experts, patients and campaigners will come together for a Save Our NHS rally.

UNISON believes that there is still time to influence the outcome of the bill. The union is urging members to take part in the 7 March rally, organised under the banner of the All Together for the NHS campaign, to lobby a lord  to sign the official e-petition calling on the government to ‘Drop the Bill’


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