The RCGP has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to formally call for the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill, citing the ‘irreparable damage’ it could cause to patient care.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said: “This decision was not taken lightly, but it is clear that the College has been left with no alternative. We have taken every opportunity to negotiate changes for the good of our patients and for the continued stability of the NHS, yet while the Government has claimed that it has made widespread concessions, our view is that the amendments have created greater confusion. We remain unconvinced that the Bill will improve the care and services we provide to our patients.
“Our position has not changed, and the concerns we expressed when this Bill was at the White Paper stage 18 months ago have still not been satisfactorily addressed. Competition, and the opening up our of health service to any qualified providers will lead not only to fragmentation of care, but also potentially to a ‘two tier’ system with access to care defined by a patient’s ability to pay.
“We support a greater role for GPs in the planning, design and delivery of services within their local communities, but as the organisation representing the views of over 44,000 GPs, we cannot support a Bill that will damage the care and services that GPs deliver to patients and ultimately bring about the demise of a unified, national health service.
“Our view is that what is required now is to rapidly consolidate the current organisational structure, such that PCT clusters remain, with GPs placed as the majority of the Board so that we may address the serious issues facing our NHS. There should be a debate as a matter of urgency to determine what the NHS can provide, how it should be funded, and how we deal with the major health and social care problems facing our population.
“We cannot sit back. Instead, we must once again raise our concerns in the hope that the Prime Minister will halt this damaging, unnecessary and expensive reorganisation which, in our view, risks leaving the poorest and most vulnerable in society to bear the brunt.
“We will continue to do everything we can, both as a College and in partnership with our colleagues in the Academy of Royal Colleges, our nursing colleagues and across the wider health and social care sectors, to bring about change for the good of our patients and preserve the principles of the NHS that has served millions of patients so well for over 60 years – a universal healthcare service, free at the point of need.”