Patients Association Response to the Return of the Health and Social Care Bill to the House of Lords
Date Added:08 February 2012
The Patients Association today urged members of the House of Lords to take action to force the Government to radically rethink its proposed restructuring of the NHS.
Since the inception of the Health and Social Care Bill the organisation has been concerned that the reforms did not focus on the key issues that need to be addressed in the NHS-how to ensure that services are not affected by the huge efficiency savings required and how to improve the care that patients receive at present, which all too often falls short of the standards that should be expected.
The Patients Association has stated previously that it believes the move to ‘any willing provider’ would have lead to an unacceptable amount of competition and external involvement in the delivery of services within the NHS. In addition we have been concerned that the proposed creation of GP Commissioning Groups would fundamentally alter the relationship between a patient and their doctor, as well as making dramatically worse the existing postcode lottery.
Finally, we believe the Bill has missed a key opportunity to improve patient engagement in their local NHS. The funding for HealthWatch is not sufficiently ringfenced, and there will not be enough pressure on local authorities to provide robust, well trained and wide ranging Healthwatch services.
Speaking about the return of the bill to the Lords Katherine Murphy, the Patients Association Chief Executive said “ We have consistently said that we want to work with the Government to improve the Bill, and were pleased to be able to hold a number of ‘listening exercises’ during the Bills pause last year. We proposed a number of potential changes, suggested by patients, as a result of those events.
However it is becoming ever more clear that all of the problems that we had with the Bill at the outset continue to exist in this latest incarnation. The Bill means the focus of the NHS has now been for nearly two years on the costly process of eliminating bureaucracy simply to put a new bureaucracy in its place.
Patients want to know that when they are treated at a doctors surgery, in hospital or in any other part of the Health and Social care system, they are receiving the best possible treatment, which isn’t dependant on where they happen to live or which doctor they happen to be registered with. When things go wrong they want to know that the NHS is structured in a way which makes accountability its key priority. This Bill will make all of these things less, rather than more, likely. It is therefore vital that the House of Lords use this last opportunity to make it clear to the Government that their reforms are misguided, unnecessary and unwanted.”
Notes for Editors
1. The Patients Association is a campaigning charity, listening to patients and speaking up for change. It has been working for 48 years to make sure that the patient voice is heard and listened to by policy makers.
2. For further information please contact the Patients Association on 02084239111 or on 07779004898 if outside of the hours 9-5.30pm.
3. To see our previous work on the Health and Social care bill visit www.patients-association.com
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