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Government reforms ‘spell the end of the NHS’

By Alisdair Stirling

The Government's health reforms will result in the break-up of the NHS and will leave GPs as cost-cutters rather than medical advocates, an editorial in the Lancet has warned.

The article published in the journal today said the changes outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill published this month would replace the philosophy of a genuinely national health service with the ethos of individual providers.

The article suggested that the plans to give care budgets to GP consortia would change the way GPs approached the care they provide for their patients: 'The emphasis will move from clinical need (GPs' forte) back to cost (not what GPs were trained to evaluate).'

It said the public had not voted for the changes adding: 'The speed of the introduction of the Health and Social Care Bill is surprising, especially given the absence of relevant detail in the health manifestos. The Conservatives promised, if elected, to scrap "politically motivated targets that have no clinical justification" and called themselves the "party of the NHS"—a commitment that seems particularly hollow now.

'Health professionals cannot say that no change is needed—it most certainly is. But there is sufficient uncertainty and concern about the changes outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill to pause, to learn from the past, and to consider what the changes mean for patients' outcomes.

'As it stands, the UK Government's new Bill spells the end of the NHS.'

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