By Ian Quinn
Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed his Government’s reforms will ‘inject competition’ into the NHS and that the appetite of GPs for the Government’s NHS reforms will defy the doubters.
In his biggest intervention to date on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposals, Mr Cameron stressed the reforms had his full personal and political backing, as Government sources this week insisted the message to GPs was one of ‘full steam ahead’.
With the health bill due to be published later this week, Mr Cameron said the Government was ‘taking apart the targets’ and the ‘thickets of guidance that smother doctors’, opening up the NHS to more competition and making GPs answerable to patient choice.
Mr Cameron said it was determined not to shy away from controversial changes and would go further than the previous Government to open up the NHS to private providers.
‘We are injecting competition, saying to the private sector, community organisations, social enterprises and charities: come in and deliver great public services.’
Mr Cameron argued new powers for GP consortia to take control of NHS budgets and directly commission services were a vital act of modernisation and sticking to the ‘status quo’ of PCTs and SHA’s was not an option.
‘People said there would be no appetite for this,’ he said. ‘Far from fearing new commissioning arrangements, over 140 GP-led consortia have now come forward, covering over half the country.’
But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC lead negotiator for commissioning, said the reason GPs were responding was in a desperate bid to save the NHS from collapse.
‘The term pathfinder has become a misnomer,’ he said. ‘Many GPs are acting only because they see PCTs imploding before their eyes and are worried that unless they accelerate their plans the NHS will collapse.’
David Cameron: GPs have shown appetite for change David Cameron: GPs have shown appetite for change