BMA briefing paper outlines 'serious risks' of Health Bill

Government amendments to the Health Bill do not alter the fact it is fundamentally flawed, the BMA has said in a briefing to the Lords.

Dr Meldrum: 'The amendments do little to address the issues which continue to cause great concern'
Dr Meldrum: 'The amendments do little to address the issues which continue to cause great concern'

Prior to the Bill entering the report stage on 8 February, the BMA has once again called for its withdrawal.

The union said: ‘Amending the legislation will not suffice – it needs to be withdrawn and meaningful debate started on a sustainable way forward.’

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum described the government’s recent amendments – to increase patient involvement and the responsibilities of the health secretary and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) - as ‘minor tweaking’.

In the Lords briefing paper the BMA said it still held concerns over the excessive control the NHS commissioning board (NCB) would have over CCGs and plans to pay GPs a ‘quality premium’ incentive for commissioning. The union also criticised part three of the Bill that it says introduces competition into the NHS.

Dr Meldrum said: ‘We recognise that some of the amendments recently set down by the government suggest modest improvements in some areas, such as integration, training and education and giving patients a greater say in their healthcare.  

‘But these do little to address the issues which continue to cause us great concern, for example: an over reliance on ‘market forces’ remains at the core of the Bill, there is excessive control over clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), plans for incentives for commissioning are ill-thought through, and proposals to give hospitals more scope to generate income from private patients pose serious risks.’

The Labour Lords have also continued to criticise the Bill, describing it as ‘unnecessary’ in a position statement from Labour House of Lords front bench team. They said that despite the most recent round of amendments the Bill still posed 'a risk to patient care'.

During the report stage the Labour Lords will focus particular attention on the health secretary’s powers and autonomy, the NCB’s relationship with CCGs and the powers of regulator Monitor.

Working with partner organisations, Labour is also developing a detailed explanation of how the NHS could be stabilised if the Bill was dropped and how existing legal powers and structures could be used to continue with reform, the statement said.

 

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