By Gareth Iacobucci
MPs from across all three major political parties have urged the Government to rethink the scale and pace of its NHS reforms, as fears over the rapid timetable for implementation gather pace.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health has issued a raft of recommendations to the coalition about its radical white paper proposals, with a new report calling for greater detail on exactly how the proposals will be implemented, and for the transition period to be managed more slowly.
The report increases the pressure on the Government to slow down the rapid pace of the changes, and comes after Pulse revealed earlier this week that the Government had delayed the publication of the health bill until early next year, amid speculation that it is grappling with political discontent from within its own ranks.
The APPG report warns that abolishing layers of NHS management too quickly could threaten the success of the reforms, and says the handover should be managed more gradually to ensure an effective transition.
It urges: ‘We recommend the Government re-think the scale and pace of structural reforms and approach it in a more measured way that will ensure continuity of management and leadership.'
‘This can be done by building on existing arrangements, strengthening GP commissioning within current structures and streamlining the organisation of the NHS by reducing the size and numbers of PCTs gradually as functions are handed over to commissioning consortia at a more progressive rate.'
Labour MP Kevin Barron, co-chair of the APPG and former chair of the health committee, said: ‘We are greatly concerned about the pace, scale and structure of the reform. We hope the Government will seriously consider the recommendations.'
The group who signed of the report also includes Conseravtive MPs such as former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, Dr Philip Lee and David Amess.
But health minister Lord Howe, accepting the report on behalf of the Government, insisted that the reforms were on track - and even claimed that the BMA had signed up to the rapid pace of the reforms.
He said: ‘People have commented on the timescale, but we do have the time to work through this. The BMA are clear that the timetable is achievable.'MPs' key recommendations to the Government
- Rethink the scale and pace of reforms
- Provide more detail on how proposals will be immplemented
- Provide training for current NHS staff on how to engage patients
- Provide training for future NHS staff on how to engage patients
- Transition period for stuctural changes must be managed properly
- National and local public health information programmes
- National legislation to ensure health engagement
- Research is undertaken to understand why people adopt unhealthy behaviour
- The expertise and experienve of all healthcare professionals is maximised
Do you have the knowledge and expertise to make a success of commissioning?
Attend the Essential Commissioning Skills seminar on 15 February (London) and 03 March (Manchester) to gain advice and guidance to adapt to change and meet the challenges ahead. Click for more details.