GPC chairman demands major Health Bill revisions

The government must make 'major revisions' to the Health Bill, and go much further than just a 're-spray job', the chairman of the GPC has demanded.

Dr Laurence Buckman received a 40-second standing ovation following his speech to the annual conference of LMCs, where he warned that the Bill would alter the face of the English NHS forever.

He called for a number of changes to the Bill, demanding that plans to increase competition in the NHS should be replaced by efforts to improve collaboration and co-operation.

‘While we see the potential benefits of clinically-led commissioning, the government’s attitude to competition takes an idea that could be fruitful and turns it into something rotten,’ he said.

Dr Buckman also said clinically-led commissioning could be introduced without legislation, and instead could be achieved by changes to PCT structures.

But he drew one of the largest rounds of applause for his call for the ‘unethical’ quality premium to be removed from the Bill. He said: ‘GPs will not take money for reducing care for patients. Indeed, we will not agree to anything that gives patients the slightest perception that we might be making money out of reducing care for patients.’

Meanwhile, Dr Buckman also warned that the he would not forgive possible ‘terminal damage’ to the profession’s pensions and warned that the plans for registration with the Care Quality Commission would be burdensome for GPs.

In his 20-minute speech, which was punctuated by 18 sets of applause, Dr Buckman said that he had moved away from his position stated at the annual conference last year that these are ‘exciting times’. He said: ‘A year on, I am not excited anymore. I am very concerned about where all this will lead.

‘Because right now, as a result of the financial crisis, the NHS is not just being cut to the bone, but whole limbs are being amputated.’

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