In a report published today, the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has warned that the reorganisation of the NHS in England could ‘make the challenge of achieving savings for reinvestment even tougher.’
Commenting on the MPs’ report on Health and Social Care Bill, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: ‘Having already been set the massive challenge of cutting costs by £20 billion, the NHS in England is now facing the most fundamental reorganisation in its history.
‘The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is right to highlight the risks posed by such a massive restructuring at a time of financial crisis.
‘However, it is not just the timing, but also the direction of travel of these reforms that will cause problems.
‘We share the concerns of the PAC that the consequences of increasing competition in the NHS have not been fully addressed.
‘“Market failures” in healthcare have far more serious consequences than in other industries – and may have little connection with quality of care, or even patient demand.’
BMA Council member Anna Athow, speaking in a personal capacity, said: ‘Many of us feel that the BMA should actively oppose the Health and Social Care Bill in its entirety.
‘Meanwhile, the government is proceeding apace with massive cuts to frontline care.
‘There are those of us who feel that hospitals and departments under threat should be occupied to keep them open.’
Also responding to the PAC report, public sector union Unison reiterated its call for the Health and Social Care Bill to be pronounced DOA, dead on arrival.
Unison noted: ‘The report also raises concerns about the real cost of the reforms, the systems in place to protect patients and taxpayers, and the ability of GP practices and hospitals to gain consortia or Foundation Trust status.’
Unison Head of Health Christina McAnea said: ‘Another week, another report warns that the Health and Social Care Bill poses a real danger to patients.
‘The NHS and its staff have always adapted to change, but this Bill takes a wrecking ball to the NHS as we know it.
‘Along with many other major health organisations and patient groups, Unison has long been warning that the Bill is the wrong prescription for the NHS.
‘And the evidence just keeps on mounting. It’s time for this bill to be shelved for good, not just temporarily be put on hold.’
Unison stressed: ‘The NHS is working and public satisfaction with the NHS is at an all-time high. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’
All Trades Unions Alliance national secretary Dave Wiltshire commented: ‘What is needed is a general strike to bring down this hated government and go forward to a workers government that will restore jobs, public services and the Welfare State in full.’