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Campaigners fighting to stop the closure of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals at a lobby of the council last Wednesday
THE Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has written to health minister Lord Howe expressing grave concern that the government is planning to privatise large sections of the NHS by stealth, in breach of previous promises to doctors to limit the role of the private sector.

In the letter leaked to the press, the Academy’s chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, suggests that unless regulations, quietly published weeks ago to supplement the Health and Social Care Act passed last year, are amended, health care will be disrupted and hospital services damaged as a result of time-consuming, disruptive and unnecessary tendering processes.

Stephenson says the Section 75 regulations are ‘at odds’ with reassurances given last year to the colleges, which had warned that ‘unnecessary competition (would) destabilise complex, interconnected local health economies, in particular hospitals, potentially having adverse effects on patient services’.

Stephenson said that the new regulations ‘appear to potentially undermine these commitments’ and called for swift reassurance that changes will be made so that the Academy’s ‘considerable concern’ is addressed once and for all.

Last Friday, more than 1,000 NHS doctors wrote to the Daily Telegraph demanding the withdrawal of the regulations, saying they would be ‘another nail in the coffin of a publicly provided NHS free from the motive of corporate profit’.

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, wrote to Howe last week warning that it would ‘have significant implications for local determination, stability of services and transaction costs, with an ultimately negative impact on patient care’.

The Unite union said on Saturday that health secretary Hunt ‘needs to do the right thing and ditch new NHS competition regulations before competitive markets let rip across the NHS and staff morale crumbles still further’.

Rachael Maskell, Unite head of health, said: ‘Hunt can no longer ignore the professionals. Attempts to sneak these regulations through have failed. He must now heed the warning of 1,000 doctors and one of the leading architects of the NHS reforms and scrap the Section 75 regulations.

‘It is no coincidence that staff morale is crumbling – the government’s rush to privatise the NHS is tearing it apart before our very eyes and it is NHS staff and patients on the frontline who are bearing the brunt of this destruction.’


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