The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the UK’s largest medical Royal College, yesterday wrote to Prime Minister Cameron calling for the complete withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The College announced its decision in the wake of the amendments to the Bill laid down in the House of Lords on 1st February.
It follows a similar call by the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives.
The RCGP statement said: ‘Despite the number and extent of the amendments, the College remains concerned that the Bill will cause irreparable damage to patient care and jeopardise the NHS.’
Over 90 per cent of respondents to a poll carried out by the RCGP said they thought it appropriate to seek the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said yesterday: ‘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.’
She warned: ‘Competition, and the opening up of our 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.’
Gerada stressed: ‘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.’
Welcoming the RCGP decision, Chairman of BMA Council, Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘The RCGP statement seeking withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill surely scotches, once and for all, the government’s claims that there is professional support for this deeply flawed, damaging and unnecessary legislation.
‘Whilst GPs and other clinicians support the concept of clinically-led commissioning, they do not believe that this expensive upheaval of the health service is needed to achieve that.
‘If the Prime Minister really wants to put clinicians in control he should listen to what they are saying, louder and louder each day, and put this increasingly confused legislation out of its misery.’