Health Bill still represents unacceptably high risk to NHS, warns BMA

The BMA has called on the government to withdraw or significantly amend the Health and Social Care Bill.

Dr Meldrum: concerns over the Bill's continued ‘misguided’ reliance on market factors
Dr Meldrum: concerns over the Bill's continued ‘misguided’ reliance on market factors

In a letter to MPs, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said that despite the government's efforts to listen to concerns, the Bill still represented an ‘unacceptably high risk to the NHS, threatening its ability to operate effectively and equitably, now and in the future.’

The letter was accompanied by a briefing document, setting out the BMA’s specific concerns.

Outlined in the document was the BMA’s continued opposition to the quality premium.

The briefing document said: ‘Any incentives or financial reward associated with commissioning should remain entirely separate from GP practice income streams.  Where a financial reward applies, it should be used to benefit the NHS and patient services.’

The BMA also expressed concerned over the future role of the health secretary.

The document said: ‘It is necessary to amend the Bill to provide further assurance that the secretary of state retains ultimate responsibility for the provision of a comprehensive health service, whilst also allowing the board and clinical commissioning groups day-to-day operational independence.’

In his letter to MPs, Dr Meldrum expressed concerns over the Bill's continued ‘misguided’ reliance on market factors.

Dr Meldrum warned that if the any qualified provider policy was expanded across a large range of services, it had ‘the potential to destabilise local health economies if not properly managed’.

The letter expressed concerns that little had been done to address the potential ‘knock on effect’ reforms would have on medical education and training, public health and the patient-doctor relationship.

Dr Meldrum highlighted the ‘excessive complexity and bureaucracy’ that had already been created by reforms.

A GP survey recently revealed that over 90% of GPs felt that administration had increased over the last 12 months.

Dr Meldrum said that in order to succeed, reforms required ‘the full confidence of patients and those working in the health service’.

The Health Bill is expected to be debated in parliament next week.

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