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Reaction: Government relaunches NHS reforms

Read what the RCGP, BMA and other key bodies have to say over the Government’s proposed changes to the health bill

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair

‘We are pleased that the Prime Minister now seems to be addressing the concerns that the RCGP has been raising since the outset – competition, choice and the role of the private sector; ensuring that the Secretary of State remains accountable for the health service and how we deliver improved and joined-up care for our patients as a result of the reforms.’

‘As family doctors, we know that patients want their care to be provided closer to home through the NHS and through GPs working in partnership with hospital and social care colleagues.’

‘We must now work together with Government to celebrate the successes of the current NHS whilst evolving to meet the needs of patients in the future.’

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chair

‘We are pleased that the government has accepted the Future Forum’s core recommendations, and that there will be significant revisions to the Health and Social Care Bill. We will need to look carefully at the details of the changes, but it seems clear that what we are likely to see is a very different Bill, and one which puts the reforms on a better track. There is much in the government’s response that addresses the BMA’s concerns, and many of the principles outlined reflect changes we have called for. The success of the reforms will very much depend on how the various elements link together and work on a practical level, and on how much they engage clinicians and patients locally.’

‘We welcome the shift in the role of Monitor away from promoting competition. However, while we have always supported the principle of greater choice for patients, it has to be workable. There will need to be robust safeguards to ensure that vital services are not destabilised by unnecessary competition.’

‘More detail is needed about the way clinical commissioning groups will operate in practice. While greater accountability and transparency around their decision-making processes are welcome, they should not be encumbered by bureaucracy.’

‘It is reassuring that the government recognises there are still a number of issues to work through. It is particularly important that dialogue continues on education and training and the development of incentives for commissioners. We look forward to continuing our discussions with the government to help ensure that NHS reform is best for patients and workable for staff. Hanging over all this, however, is the fact that the NHS is facing unprecedented financial pressures. The focus on structural reform must not distract us from the task of minimising the impact of funding cuts on care.’

Mike Farrar, NHS Confederation chief executive

‘We are pleased to see that the government has recognised the importance of promoting integration but believe it is also important to recognise that for some services the use of choice and competition is also an essential route to deliver the best patient care.’

‘While we recognise and applaud the importance of stable transition we also need to make sure that the new system is not over centralising and there is real momentum towards the important goal of pushing power down to the local level. Localism means being able to take different approaches in different parts of the country according to local needs. We need the new clinical commissioning consortia to be in place as soon as possible to make this happen.’

‘We have to stress-test all the changes the government is making to make sure they are workable and deliverable. We have to do this quickly in order to put structural change to bed and focus on what matters to patients.’

John Healey, shadow health secretary

‘This is a complete humiliation for David Cameron, who has been forced to protect the health service from his own badly-thought through plans. He has lost the trust of the country on the NHS.’

‘The Tory-led government is reorganising its own reorganisation, wasting billions more pounds instead of focusing on patient care. Across the NHS, chaos and confusion continues, with more bureaucracy, long waiting times and cut to services.’

‘This has been a wasted year in the NHS. David Cameron’s Health Bill is no longer needed and should be scrapped.’

Sue Sharpe, PSNC chief executive

‘PSNC welcomes the Government’s decision, which will help to prevent the reform programme from becoming a distraction to the development of pharmacy. For PSNC, the ultimate test for these reforms will be how far the pharmacy service develops in the coming years, for the benefit of patients and the NHS.’

Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers

‘The Government has accepted the core recommendations of the Future Forum. These include giving employers a more central role in determining the future supply of well trained staff who are essential to providing and supporting high quality patient care.’

David Worskett, director of the NHS Partners Network

‘Providers who have worked immensely hard to integrate with and support the NHS are disappointed at the Government’s failure to recognise this or provide wholehearted commitment to the independent sector for the future.’

‘The independent sector continues to believe that the NHS needs more innovation, diversity and robust, fair competition if it is to meet the challenges it faces, including achieving better integration, which we strongly support and which can be strengthened by a competitive market.’

‘While we welcome the retention of the Cooperation and Competition Panel within Monitor, the overall dilution of Monitor’s role and the return to more centralized control and direction via the National Commissioning Board are unwelcome. The commitment to patient choice rings hollow when there is so little real encouragement of diversity or providers to make it meaningful. Overall, the process of reforming the provider side of the NHS so that it better meets patients’ needs has been set back by several years.’

‘Independent sector providers will remain committed to helping the NHS meet the challenges it faces but will need much greater clarity from the new institutions before investors regain the confidence which has been badly damaged. What matters now is getting on with the job of looking after patients – putting their interests first, not organizations, structures or politics.”‘

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation

‘The government has rightly recognised that research and patient care in the NHS are intrinsically linked, and the reforms should ensure that research is given appropriate priority in the commissioning process. Without this commitment it would be impossible for the UK to maintain its hard won reputation for outstanding medical research. But the devil will be in the detail of what commissioners are actually prepared to fund.

‘Heart patients in the UK today benefit from a wealth of evidence-based treatments, many of which have come through drug trials undertaken within the NHS. The BHF is anticipating spending an extra £50m on our Mending Broken Hearts programme of regenerative medicine research to find new treatments for heart failure. Success will depend crucially on being able to test new treatments in the NHS.’

Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust

I am very pleased that the Government has recognised the vital roles that research and the use of evidence play in a health service that aspires to excellence. This is an important step forward in building an NHS and public health system that foster research that can lead to better ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating ill health. The Government’s pledge to embed research into an integrated health service must now be turned into action for improved health outcomes.’

Read more on the relaunch of the NHS reforms

GP consortia will be re-branded as ‘clinical commissioning groups’, will have to appoint at least one nurse and one hospital consultant onto their boards, and will have to share boundaries with local authorities, as part of a wide-ranging shake-up of the Government’s NHS reforms. Read the full story here.

Click here to read our live coverage of the relaunch.