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Field hits back at Gerada’s health bill criticism

Professor Steve Field , the former RCGP chair and chair of the Government's Future Forum ‘listening exercise', has hit back at criticism from his successor at the college and launched a staunch defence of the amended health bill.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse published earlier today, current RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada warned that the college will back the BMA's call for the health bill to be withdrawn unless ministers make a raft of further amendments to address GPs' ‘very real concerns'.

But reacting to his successor's comments, Professor Field said: ‘It is extremely disappointing the RCGP have taken this view.'

‘As chairman of the NHS Future Forum, our independent report has been taken seriously. The Government listened and put forward over 180 amendments as a result. In particular, they responded to our criticisms of Monitor and significantly changed its remit as a regulator, and endorsed our view that competition has a place in the health service but not as an end in itself. It has also responded to our strong views about cherry picking and supported us in our requests to do more to reduce health inequalities.'

Professor Field also reacted strongly to Dr Gerada's fears over competition, which she warned was ‘still at the heart of the bill'.

‘I personally do not believe that competition is a disease, ‘ he said. ‘Indeed, there is already competition in the NHS - whether that is between GP surgeries or in delivery of end of life care in hospices.'

And he rejected the idea that suggestion that the bill would increase NHS bureaucracy.

‘With regards to clinical senates, the idea is not to increase bureaucracy, but to get greater clinical engagement,' he said. ‘Clinical senates are already working in parts of the country.'

‘The Government has already made clear it will carry on listening to health professionals, and will shortly be announcing further details on the remit of NHS Future Forum.'