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Marlborough doctor signs letter opposing the government’s NHS reform Bill

 Dr Richard Hook, who is a partner at the Marlborough Medical Practice, signed the letter in Wednesday’s (February 1) Daily Telegraph which calls for the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Bill to be dropped. Dr Hook is a board member of the North and East Wiltshire (NEW) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which will take over commissioning most NHS services in our area from April 2013.

The letter - signed by 365 doctors who belong to doctors.net - was in response to an earlier one to the newspaper (January 28) from the heads of more than fifty CCGs who supported the Bill and criticised doctors’ opposition to it.

The letter reads: The CCG leaders who support the Health and Social Care Bill do not represent the majority of GPs, who believe the Bill will seriously damage patient care. More than 90 per cent of GPs polled by the Royal College of General Practitioners said that the Bill should be withdrawn.

The NHS is not in peril if these reforms don’t go ahead. On the contrary, it is the Bill which threatens to derail and fragment the NHS into a collection of private providers. The Bill will result in in hundreds of different organisations pulling against each other, leading to fragmentation, chaos and damage to the quality and availability of patient care.

As GPs, we agree that clinicians need more involvement in planning the NJHS, and that the health service needs to improve. We don’t need a Bill to achieve that. Drop the Bill and let’s work on the real issues: improving safety, efficiency and quality of care.

Dr Hook says that doctors who signed this letter will have their own detailed reasons for doing so, “But I wanted to rebut the suggestion made in the letter to the Telegraph last week which stated that because GPs are involved in the reform process therefore they support it unreservedly.”

As the process has developed with a stream of plans and edicts from the Department of Health, it’s become clear “That the freedom for GPs to drive the commissioning process that was flagged in the White Paper could be lost. I signed the letter because I’m not convinced the Bill as it stands now is going to do what it was supposed to do.”

Some of the provisions that have emerged as the political and administrative process has gone on mean that parts of the original aim have been lost: “The reforms have the potential to do good things.”

“Even though the Bill is not on the statute books yet, GPs in this area are doing our best to make the reforms work. That should not be interpreted as wholesale support for the Bill – it may be qualified support. Many GPs have an increasing suspicion that privatisation of more parts of the NHS are on their agenda.”

Dr Hook also believes that it’s becoming increasingly clear that doctors are being set up to take responsibility and blame when the NHS budget shrinks even further: “From the politicians point of view it’s about who’s left holding the package when the money runs out.”
 

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