By Tim Hardy
At 1pm today, a group of medical students delivered a letter to Number 10 on behalf of tomorrow’s doctors asking for the government to drop the Health and Social Care Bill.
The letter, which originated from students at Bart’s and the London Medical School, tells Mr Cameron why medical students from across the country are very concerned about the healthcare system they will qualify into if the Health and Social Care bill is passed next week.
Drafted earlier this week, within 36 hours, the letter had accumulated nearly 2000 signatures.
Anya Gopfert, Medsin national policy and advocacy director said:
My main concern is that the Health Bill will cause greater variation in the quality and a widening of inequalities in access to healthcare between different Clinical Commissioning Groups. This new postcode lottery will also mean that patients could be treated differently and poorer communities and more vulnerable people may get a worse service. Patients could even be charged for care that is currently free, depending on the private company that their healthcare is contracted to.
Vita Sinclair from King’s College London added:
The Health Bill is dangerous because it is so complicated that people struggle to understand what is happening to their NHS. If the Bill is passed , we will see gradual changes leaving vulnerable populations like the homeless or simply those with a complicated medical history at high risk of being treated unfairly or not treated at all. We want Mr Cameron and the Government to drop the Bill.
In delivering this letter, the next generation of doctors has shown the same concerns that fully qualified professionals have already expressed repeatedly. The opinion of medical professionals is overwhelmingly against the bill.
The following are the positions taken by the various key bodies that operate in the National Health Service.
British Medical Association: demand withdrawal and consultants pass vote of no confidence in Andrew Lansley
“…over time, it has become clear that this is the most top-down reorganisation the NHS has seen since its inception… the ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish… if passed the Bill will be irreversibly damaging to the NHS as a public service, converting it into a competitive marketplace that will widen health inequalities and be detrimental to patient care”
The Consultants’ Committee has passed a vote of no confidence in Andrew Lansley:
“In the past we’ve declined to do this and the government has demonstrated it doesn’t listen”
Royal College of General Practitioners – demand withdrawal
“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. Three quarters 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.”
Royal College of Nursing – demand withdrawal
“We still feel the reforms are creating such turmoil that they must be stopped. In particular, the amendments do not fully address the key areas of competition, nurse involvement, the private income cap and health inequalities”
Royal College of Midwives – demand withdrawal
“The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling for the NHS Health and Social Care Bill to be scrapped….This bill is a massively expensive distraction from the challenges that the NHS faces in trying to improve healthcare at a time of severe spending restraint… We join the growing chorus of voices calling for the bill to be withdrawn, and the proposed reforms stopped in their entirety”
UK Faculty of Public Health – demand withdrawal
“…93% of those responding said that the Health and Social Care Bill, if passed, would damage the NHS and the health of people in England… it has become increasingly clear that the bill will lead to a disorganised NHS with increased health inequalities, more bureaucracy and wasted public funds.”
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health – demand withdrawal
“79% of respondents [voted] for the College to call for the ‘outright withdrawal’ of the Bill… pushing the Bill through is creating disaffection amongst the very people – the clinicians – who will be delivering these changes on the ground…”
Royal College of Radiologists – demand withdrawal
“The survey showed a substantial majority ask the College to call for the ‘complete withdrawal’ of the Bill rather than continue to seek amendments.”
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – demand withdrawal
“The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) called today for the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill… To introduce such major upheaval when the NHS needs to make enormous savings is reckless… “
“… time and time again, the views of patients and health professionals have been ignored… The Bill – even with these latest Government amendments – threatens the very future of the health service and will significantly damage the quality of patient care.”
British Geriatrics Society – demand withdrawal
“…the proposed legislation is both deeply flawed in detail and deeply troubling in its possible consequences… The division and packaging of services for competitive tendering by commissioners is surely a recipe for disintegration… we now call for the Bill to be entirely withdrawn and replaced with urgent discussions to shore up the disruption produced over the last 18 months”
Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association – demand withdrawal
“CPHVA’s membership is not in favour of this bill, as we do not feel it will deliver the positive changes and outcomes that the government believes it can. All we can see is the fragmentation of services, reduced access for the most vulnerable in society, and a reduced workforce”
Royal College of Physicians – members vote for withdrawal
Members at an Extraordinary General Meeting voted to reject the bill
The RCP have sent a survey to all members, asking whether the College should formally reject the bill. The results will be available on 16th March.
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – members vote for withdrawal
“75% of all respondents (and 76% of respondents in England) believed the Bill should be withdrawn… It is clear that there is strong opinion within those who responded to our survey, reflecting the concerns of doctors about the impact of the Bill on the NHS and on patient care”
Royal College of Psychiatrists – members vote for withdrawal
“84% of College members who responded to a survey believed the College should call for it to be withdrawn… Competition between providers can be particularly disruptive when dealing with the complex co-morbidities experienced by many people with mental illness.”
Institute of Healthcare Management – members vote for withdrawal
A survey of members showed 87% want to see the bill withdrawn.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists – members vote for withdrawal
At an Extraordinary General Meeting on 9th March, members voted in favour of the motion:
“The College should now call publicly for the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill”
The Allied Health Professions Federation – ‘unable to support’
on behalf of:
The College of Paramedics
The Society and College of Radiographers
The British Association/College of Occupational Therapists
The British Dietetic Association
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
The British and Irish Orthoptic Society
The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists
The British Association of Dramatherapists
The British Association of Art Therapists
British Association for Music Therapy
“The competitive approach to the delivery of health and social care as proposed by the H&SC Bill could well discourage integrated care pathways leading to fragmentation of services… the AHPF feels unable to support the Bill in its current form. We ask that you listen to, and act on, the concerns raised by us and others whilst there is still time.”
British Psychological Society – ‘does not support’
“…the Society does not support the Health and Society Care Bill in its current form… In its response to the Government’s NHS modernisation ‘listening exercise’, the Society expressed major concerns at the implications of the Health and Social Care Bill”
Royal College of Surgeons – ‘bill will damage NHS’
At an Extraordinary General Meeting, on 8th March, Fellows and Members voted in favour of the motion:
“[This meeting] Considers that the Health and Social Care Bill, if passed, will damage the NHS and widen healthcare inequalities, with detrimental effects on education, training and patient care in England.”
NHS Confederation – support in principle, but major concerns
“if the wider clinical community does not support the reforms there is a risk they will fail.”
(Position of the various medical bodies reproduced from NHS Bill – where do they stand?)
What will it take to make this government listen?