BMA renews call for Health Bill withdrawal

The BMA has approached the House of Lords in a renewed call for the Health Bill to be withdrawn.

Dr Meldrum: the Bill will ‘make it harder to create the seamless, efficient care that everyone agrees is key to future sustainability.’

In a letter to peers BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum warned that the Bill still ‘poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England’.

The BMA has sent letters and briefing papers to the every peer in the House Lords calling for the Bill to be withdrawn or substantially amended. Debate in the Lords begins on Tuesday.

Dr Meldrum said that the Bill will ‘make it harder to create the seamless, efficient care that everyone agrees is key to future sustainability.’

The BMA still had concerns over the lack of clarity on how the plans would be implemented, Dr Meldrum said.

He described reforms as ‘most radical restructuring of the NHS in a generation’, particularly in light of the rapid rollout taking place before the legislation has been enacted.

The Lords must address the need for an explicit provision that the health secretary will retain ultimate responsibility for the provision of comprehensive health services, the BMA said.

The BMA is also concerned that increasing patient choice of provider should not be given priority over the development of integrated services and fair access for all.

The Lords also need to apply greater scrutiny of the plans for how to tackle ‘failing’ hospitals, the BMA said.

The briefing paper also included other BMA concerns, including the threat to the future capability of public health in the NHS; the unnecessary and unhelpful bureaucracy developing around clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and the NHS Commissioning Board; and the proposal to abolish the cap on income foundation trusts can generate from private patients, which could worsen access to services for NHS patients.

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