Public health doctors call for Lords to reject Health Bill

Over 400 public health doctors and specialists have called for the Health Bill to be rejected by the Lords.

Dr Meldrum: ‘As this letter demonstrates, doctors have major concerns about the Bill.'

The open letter to all members of the Lords called for the Health Bill to be scrapped, warning that it would do ‘irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients and to society as a whole.’

Published in today’s Daily Telegraph, the letter said that the Health Bill would erode medical ethics, widen health inequalities and significantly increase marketisation.

The 400 signatories also stressed a lack of support for the Bill from clinicians.

‘While we welcome the emphasis placed on establishing a closer working relationship between public health and local government the proposed reforms as a whole will disrupt, fragment and weaken the country’s public health capabilities,’ the letter said.

'It is our professional judgement that the Health and Social Care Bill will erode the NHS’s ethical and cooperative foundations and that it will not deliver efficiency, quality, fairness or choice.

‘We therefore request that you reject passage of the Health and Social Care Bill,' the letter said.

Responding to the letter, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘As this letter demonstrates, doctors have major concerns about the Bill.

‘Accelerating the process of marketisation poses huge risks to the NHS, threatening its ability to operate effectively and equitably.’ Dr Meldrum said.   

‘Ideally, we’d like to see the legislation withdrawn entirely.  Failing that it needs to be significantly amended,’ he added.

Among the signatories of the letter was Professor Sir Michael Marmot, author of the Marmot Review, which called for GPs to be more involved in improving public health.

The organisers of the letter said they now planned to enter discussions with health professions, including the RCGP.

RCGP Chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said: 'The RCGP fully appreciates the worries of the public health doctors expressed  today.

'We will continue to engage with the Government on making our concerns heard. We fear the Bill, unless heavily amended, will widen health inequalities, lead to fragmented care and place barriers between clinicians trying to provide joined-up care for their patients.'

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