Over 2,500 RCGP members responded to the College's survey asking them their views on the Bill. It closed on 6 January and the RCGP said it would be the last time it asked members for their views on NHS reforms.
On the launch of the survey in December last year, RCGP chairwoman Dr Claire Gerada said: ‘When we look back in years to come, I want there to be no misunderstanding of the position the College has taken or criticism that we did not do enough to inform and engage members or to protect patients and the NHS.’
The results found that 98% of GPs thought the RCGP should call for the Bill to be dropped under a ‘joint approach’ with other colleges.
Over 92% also said the RCGP should call for the Bill's withdrawal even if the joint approach is not an option.
Two thirds GPs who responded to the survey said that they felt more negative about the impact the Bill would have on the NHS than they did in April of last year.
Nearly 90% of members thought that the Bill would result in increased involvement in the private sector. However just over 20% thought that the Bill would result in improved collaboration resulting in increased integration of health (and social care).
Over two thirds of GPs disagreed or strongly disagreed that the reforms would improve patient care and 75% did not think that reforms would result in reduced bureaucracy in the NHS.
Responding to the results RCGP chairwoman Dr Claire Gerada said: ‘Our members have once more made it clear that very real concerns with the Bill remain.
'This survey makes it clear that if any changes made are not strong enough to address these concerns, there is strong support within the profession not only for us to call for more change urgently but also, should the situation warrant it, for the withdrawal of the Bill itself.’
Following the survey the RCGP has written to health secretary Andrew Lansley outlining their concerns for the Bill.
In the letter the College called for:
- The secretary of state’s existing duty to provide, or secure the provision of, a comprehensive health service throughout England, to be retained.
- Clarification on the face of the Bill that commissioners will not be required to open up services to competition unless in the patient’s best interests.
- The introduction of further safeguards on education and training and the long term retention of post graduate deaneries
In response to the survey a DoH spokeswoman said:'This is a flawed and unrepresentative survey. It allows people to vote as many times as they want and it includes views from people all over the UK, when the Bill is only relevant to England.
'We believe that there is strong support for our reforms from large sections of GPs across the country. A recent open letter, from NHS Alliance and NAPC, which represents 6,000 practices covering 75% of patients in England, reinforced support for the Health and Social Care Bill. We will continue to work with everyone in the NHS to make the improvements that are necessary to improve care for patients.
'We have already addressed the concerns raised by the RCGP, including making clear we are willing to put beyond doubt the Secretary of State remains accountable overall for the NHS.'