NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

NHS reform bill must be resisted, leading doctors tell royal colleges | Society | The Guardian

Letter urges professional bodies to stop co-operating with reforms it says most grassroots doctors do not support

by Randeep Ramesh

More than 150 scientists, surgeons and doctors have written to NHS professional bodies calling on the medical establishment to demand that the government withdraws its controversial health bill.

Co-ordinated by the NHS Consultants’ Association, the medics have written to presidents of the royal medical colleges urging them to stop co-operating with the government’s proposed NHS reforms.

The move comes as the British Medical Association begins to mobilise a public campaign against the bill, and coincides with the suggestion of Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, that family doctors hire lawyers to cope with the conflicts of interest they would face over the commissioning reforms.

The letter says the health bill, devised by the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, is not supported by the majority of the medical profession and is not in the best long-term interests of either patients, doctors or the royal colleges.

The plan would, the doctors argue, lead to “marketisation and privatisation” of the English NHS, as well as promote competition with a new regulator, and remove the health secretary’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service. The letter highlights a poll of more than 1000 doctors from the British Medical Journal, showing 93% want Lansley’s bill withdrawn, and suggests there is a lack of democratic legitimacy. The government needs to “reform its reforms”, following the public and professional backlash this year, and the changes have been expensive, the writers say: savings from the changes would bring in £4.5bn over the next four years, £700m less than the government first envisaged.

The doctors are also concerned at the emollient tone of some royal colleges. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges told MPs there were too “many disadvantages” in delay, while Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said his body largely backed “the aims of the reforms to modernise the health care system”. The letter claims “colleges are out of touch with the views … of the majority of grassroots doctors”, and accuses them of failing to safeguard their own principles, a key role being to “promote the underlying principles of medical professionalism and leadership”.

The bill, the letter says, cannot pass without the medical profession’s support.

“The colleges have a rare opportunity to make a stand for the NHS, medical profession, and patients. We therefore call upon the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to act in the public interest by publicly calling for the withdrawal of the health and social care bill.”

‘Timebomb’ fear as ‘rationing by stealth’ of operations hits NHS – Telegraph

“Rationing by stealth” is hitting the NHS, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has claimed, after official figures were released showing a steep fall in the number of people referred to hospital by GPs. by Stephen Adams

Department of Health statistics show the number of referrals made by GPs in the year up to July was 4.7 per cent lower than for the same period in 2010.

These referrals had shown a 3.5 per cent increase at the same stage last year, according to the department.

The number of patients attending for outpatient appointments has also fallen, by 2.7 per cent.

Professor Norman Williams, president of the RCS, described the figures as “extremely disturbing”.

He said: “These data provide further evidence that rationing by stealth is occurring across the NHS.

“Such a steep reduction in the number of referrals by GPs suggests that patients are being given limited access to specialist clinical advice and could be missing out on treatments.”

He went on: “If correct this is extremely concerning for surgeons across the NHS.

“Stopping referrals is only storing up problems for the future – a timebomb which will end up costing the NHS and taxpayer more in the long-term.

“The rise in waiting times for orthopaedic surgery is an indicator that demand for surgery is not reducing and that the issue of rationing needs to be addressed. It will not go away.”

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