BMA renews call for Health Act repeal as reforms complete first year

BMA has renewed calls for the health and social care act to be repealed a year after one of the biggest reform programmes in the history of the NHS came into force.

BMA: campaign questions Health Act reforms
BMA: campaign questions Health Act reforms

The doctors’ union launched a campaign calling into question whether the coalition government’s reforms were working.

At a cost of billions of pounds, said BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter, the reforms had increased bureaucracy, and ‘needlessly shook up the fabric of the NHS’ with very little gain.

BMA, which opposed the act as it passed through parliament in 2012, said it wanted to highlight key areas of concern with the reforms, including the use of competitive tendering, creating unnecessary work for commissioners, thedual  role of Monitor driving integration and competition, and the role of the Office of Fair Trading making decisions about health organisation mergers. 

‘The test for any government health policy should be whether it benefits patients, and while no one wants to see another wholesale reorganisation of the NHS, doctors remain concerned that key aspects of the act and how they are being implemented could threaten patient safety,' said Dr Porter. ‘Nothing more so than the emphasis on competition over integration and its failure to improve patient care, a concern echoed by Sir David Nicholson, the outgoing head of NHS England, and the millions already wasted on lawyers as commissioners struggle with the changes.’

‘The Office of Fair Trading, whose expertise lies in ensuring consumer choice in private markets, has no place in the NHS. It is in the best interests of patients if decisions on how services are delivered are clinically led, yet the OFT was still able to overturn the proposed merger between hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole despite support from the local community, commissioners and most importantly, clinicians. 

‘All of this comes as the NHS continues to be used as a political football despite the government’s assurances that they want to ‘free NHS staff from political micromanagement’. We have seen doctors openly criticised by ministers, attempts to force through change such as in Lewisham made for political expediency, and even claims that there are attempts to manipulate NHS England for political purposes.

‘The damage done to the NHS has been profound and intense. Consequently the BMA has taken the concerns expressed by doctors amongst others and calls for the repeal of this act. What we need now and is an honest and frank debate over how we can put right what has gone wrong without further top-down reorganisation.’

BMA launched its campaign yesterday with a parliamentary seminar with former health secretaries Andy Burnham, Stephen Dorrell and Frank Dobson, and former health minister Paul Burstow.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

More than half of GP locums have seen a significant drop in income due to COVID-19

More than half of GP locums have seen a significant drop in income due to COVID-19

More than half of GP locums have experienced a significant fall in their income during...

How a GP helped develop a protective shield to cover patients needing CPR in the pandemic

How a GP helped develop a protective shield to cover patients needing CPR in the pandemic

Wiltshire GP Dr Lydia Campbell-Hill explains how she helped create a mini isolation...

GP practices can now sign up to new online PPE portal

GP practices can now sign up to new online PPE portal

GP practices will be able to register with the DHSC's new online PPE portal, which...

Fully-qualified GP workforce fell by 712 over the past year

Fully-qualified GP workforce fell by 712 over the past year

The fully-qualified GP workforce in England fell by 2.5%, losing 712 full-time equivalent...

MPs call for expert guidance on medico-legal implications of pandemic

MPs call for expert guidance on medico-legal implications of pandemic

A group of MPs has called on the government to set up an independent expert committee...

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...