The BMA today (Thursday 6 October 2011) renewed its call for the Health and Social Care Bill in England to be withdrawn or, at the least, undergo further, substantial amendment, in a letter and briefing paper from its Chairman to every peer in the House of Lords.
The Health and Social Care Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 11 October.
In the letter to peers, the BMA Chairman of Council, Dr Hamish Meldrum, says that the Bill will “make it harder to create the seamless, efficient care that everyone agrees is key to future sustainability. “
The BMA recognises that some significant amendments have already been made to the Bill in the light of some of its concerns, and that some of the proposals, such as giving more control to clinicians and patients, could create positive change in the health service.
However, Dr Meldrum says, “on balance, the BMA still believes the Bill, as it currently stands, poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England.”
He also outlines concerns about the continuing lack of clarity over how the plans would be implemented, described as the “most radical restructuring of the NHS in a generation,” particularly in light of the rapid rollout taking place before the legislation has been enacted.
The BMA believes the most pressing overarching concerns the Lords need to address are:
- The need for an explicit provision that the Secretary of State will retain ultimate responsibility for the provision of comprehensive health services
- Assurance that increasing patients’ choice of provider for specific elements of their care will not be given priority over the development of integrated services and fair access for all
- ·Greater scrutiny of the plans for how to tackle ‘failing’ hospitals
Other concerns, detailed in the accompanying briefing paper, include the threat to the future capability of public health in the NHS; the unnecessary and unhelpful bureaucracy developing around Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS Commissioning Board; and the proposal to abolish the cap on income Foundation Trusts can generate from private patients, which could worsen access to services for NHS patients.
The letter to peers and an accompanying briefing paper can be found on the BMA website http://www.bma.org.uk/lobbying_campaigning/healthsocbilltoolkit.jsp