Royal Colleges dump Cameron

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One of last year’s trade union demonstrations in defence of the NHS
One of last year’s trade union demonstrations in defence of the NHS

Royal Colleges which attended last week’s Downing Street ‘Health Bill War Summit’ are reversing their positions and coming out in opposition to the Bill.

Members of the Royal College of Surgeons are holding an extraordinary meeting next Thursday March 8th to reverse the College’s support for the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Royal College of Physicians met yesterday to decide whether to ballot its members on withdrawing support.

And at the end of last week the Royal College of Paediatrics withdrew their support, leaving the Royal College of Obstetricians the only royal college not yet consulting on, or declaring opposition to,

Ahead of yesterday’s Extraordinary General Meeting, Lancet Editor Richard Horton called on the Royal College of Physicians to reject the ‘damaging and destructive’ Bill.

Citing the college’s crucial role in the advancement of the nation’s health at important historical moments during its 500 year history, Horton argued: ‘If this Bill passes, the NHS will eventually be run by private sector management consultants.

‘To all intents and purposes, this is the privatisation of the NHS.’

He added: ‘We must articulate a compelling vision of what the NHS means to our society today. It is time to state that vision clearly. It is not enough to say only what we are against. We must say what we are for.’

He warned: ‘David Cameron argues that all the Coalition need do now is create a new “narrative” for the Bill. What he is really saying is that his government must create a new story to conceal more successfully the real intent of the Bill.’

He stressed that for the NHS to flourish ‘we need collaboration, not competition; integration, not fragmentation; equity, not increasing inequities; public provision, not private exploitation; accountability, not evasion; and a relentless focus on quality, not merely cost.’

Horton concluded: ‘As the Health and Social Care Bill reaches a critical stage, this College must be courageous, confident, and ready to seize this opportunity. We need to offer leadership. We need to reject this damaging and destructive Bill.’