Chris Lancelot: Dislike the Bill? Come up with something better

Dr Sarah Wollaston, former GP and now a Conservative MP, said it best: 'Those who want to scrap the Bill rarely seem to have a constructive alternative.'

The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com
The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com

Precisely. We know full well what the Health Bill's opponents want to stop, but not what they would like to see in its place - other than to continue with the status quo.

Except that the status quo isn't working. The current NHS is disjointed, dysfunctional, and - bearing in mind that we have a financial crisis on our hands - unaffordable. So the government created an eminently sensible solution - which its opponents want withdrawn, or else amended to the point of emasculation.

What will they put in its place? Back to PCTs? (Really? Are they sure that's a good idea?) Continue with Disconnecting for Health (did I spell that right?), wasting another £6 billion going backwards even more quickly? Implement revalidation, Care Quality Commission registration for GPs and Quality Improvement Productivity Prevention in obsessive detail? Give GPs more paperwork, so we have even less time to spend with patients? Make us work harder and longer so more of us leave earlier?

So I'd like to challenge the Bill's opponents to come up with a better plan. As the profession has always said, any alternative will have to put clinicians in charge of the NHS, be simple to operate, have high standards, take local needs into consideration and, above all, be efficient, economical and affordable.

That is precisely what the original Health Bill did, before everyone started putting their oar in. Their emotionally-charged and often politically-based opposition has succeeded in forcing the government to water down the Bill by removing its most potent aspects, leaving the remainder so complicated it will almost certainly fail.

This makes me angry. I have no problem with criticism, provided it presents a sensible alternative, but unrelenting negative criticism is just nihilistic - because the NHS simply cannot continue as it is.

So, come on all those of you who think the present Bill stinks - what positive proposals do you have? And if you don't have anything positive to say, then maybe you can take the hint, stop behaving like 21st century Luddites, and stay silent?

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