Whilst there has been much dissent over the plans for NHS reform, it seems that many are not against the central themes of the reforms – more clinical leadership for commissioning, and increased patient choice and provider competition – but rather are urging caution around the detail.
It is clear that change is necessary in the NHS, but such a large scale reform takes time to think through, and there are worries that by rushing this through, important details will be missed.
One of the more contentious issues is that of private provision of NHS services. The Lib Dem conference accepted many of the aims set out in the White Paper, but then stated that these could be “achieved without adoption the damaging and unjustified market-based approach that is proposed”.
We feel that there are many potential benefits to introducing increased competition. Greater choice for providers and patients should drive up the quality of services, and this increase in quality of NHS services should surely be our central aim. However we need to take care that such changes should not be allowed to destable essential NHS services, or undermine research and training. Taking time to thoroughly understand the implications of the changes in the Health Bill should allow us work out ways to avoid these unintended consequences, and still reap the benefits of the reforms.