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BMA chair lobbies Labour to avoid another NHS reorganisation

Exclusive The BMA is making a high-level bid to avoid another ‘damaging’ reorganisation of the NHS if the Labour party get into power in 2015, Pulse has learnt.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said that he was in Brighton this week to persuade the Labour party that if it forms the next Government, then another round of big changes to the NHS would ‘take people’s eye off the ball’.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has previously said that it will ‘repeal’ the Health and Social Care Act and legislate to better integrate health and social care. A call that was echoed by party leader Ed Miliband in his speech yesterday.

But Dr Porter said that he was at the Labour conference to persuade Labour’s leaders that there was little evidence that changing the organisation again will improve quality.

Dr Porter said: ‘The coalition Government has done one [reorganisation], the Labour party, which is potentially the next Government, is thinking of doing one. We want to talk about what has been happening recently and what reorganisations can do to take people’s eye off the ball.’

But he admitted that it may be an uphill struggle: ‘It is an interesting message to sell, the one of “please don’t change very much”, to a party which is in opposition and hoping to be the next Government, because of course the very first temptation that an incoming secretary of state has is exactly to do that. But there is little or no evidence that changing the organisation again will improve quality, which is what we are here to do. There is a lot of evidence that top-down reorganisations damage the service.’

BMA does however want Labour to amend the Health and Social Care Act if they come into power by removing the bias towards competition.

Dr Porter said: ‘That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t things that should be done and one of the things that should be done is to take away this experiment of a purchaser/provider split with privatisation which the current Government has taken from the last Labour government and accelerated. Section 75 is a small part of the overall thrust towards a commercially competitive environment instead of an integrated service for patients.’

‘The message is to, for Gods sake, not do more structural reorganisation but that is not to say that we can’t remove the pernicious influence of commercial competition in the NHS - but let’s not reform all of the organisations that deliver healthcare yet again.’

Mr Burnham said in January that he would give budgets currently held by GPs on CCGs to health and wellbeing boards instead, but Dr Porter said those plans were premature.

He said: ‘We have had six months of this policy. That is six months of a policy which was meant to reset the NHS for a generation and already they are saying “it is not working, let’s reform all of the organisations” - that is insane.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Well unfortunately the change made by the coalition were for industry and to create a market, so if people don't want that then there will have to be changes. Structural maybe if we are to remove Monitor as regulator for one thing.

    The BMA said too little, too late when the legislation came in and although largely GPS were not supportive of the changes the BMA did not do enough. They have to take their share of the blame for the mess we are in.

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  • >The BMA said too little, too late when the legislation came in and although largely GPS were not supportive of the changes the BMA did not do enough

    ---

    The BMA and Royal College did plenty, as did most other Royal Colleges and Organisations from other professions. The Govt wanted to force this through, they had the majority to do it (despite opposition from the medical establishment) and now the public has what they voted for.

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  • The current structure will need to be tweaked but should not be reorganised!

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  • Vinci Ho

    Wait a minute
    All these discussions are based on the assumption that Labour could win a outright majority in next election. What if that is not going to happen? What if Labour has to also form a coalition?
    The most important right now is to continue with a strong stance and check and expose the lies and damages inflicted by this current government . Let more people know the truth .......
    Remember ,any politician is only interested in the health of his/her party.

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  • Too late. .

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  • Anonymous | 25 September 2013 9:32am 'now the public has what they voted for.'

    No-one voted for this. The government was formed by default.

    I seem to remember a pre-election propmise of 'no more top down re-organisation' before acquisition of power.

    When wil we learn - politicians tell you what you want to hear!

    Remove the NHS from political meddling altogether. Have it managed by people who actually know and understand the internal workings, and the ramifications of organisational change.

    GIve things time to develop rather than swapping 'hare brained' schemes in Whitehall every five minutes!

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