On 6th April, Cameron pressed the “pause” button on the health bill to allow time to listen to the views of those clinicians or patients concerned about the reforms.
Previous to this week, much of the publicity around the health bill has been negative – the fears of those working within the profession that competition will damage cooperation and integrated services, as well as the recent move by the Lib Dems away from supporting the bill.
However in the last week, those who can see the benefits of the reform are fighting back:
On Tuesday, 42 GPs wrote to the Telegraph to support the Bill, and on Wednesday Saga and AgeUK warned that the NHS and social care services will collapse without the health reforms because of growing demand for services from elderly people. In the coming weeks, those who can see and wish to grasp the current opportunity to improve the efficiency of the NHS need to continue to speak out!
There is a clear need to reform the NHS; current costs are spiraling out of control, and rationalization of services and improvements in the system are needed to constrain these costs. Now there are fears that the listening exercise may be damaging the savings that were hoped for this year, due to the prolonged uncertainty about future structures.
The proposed reforms will:
- give power to GPs – allowing them to commission care pathways in the most effective way
- introduce more choice and competition – driving efficiencies in public sector delivery and increased patient focus
- introduce Health and Wellbeing boards which will encourage greater integrated working between the NHS, public health and social care.
All of these reforms could potentially lead to both better services and cost savings. The difficulties are in working out the detail, in order to allow the intended benefits to occur and to prevent unwanted side-effects. We need to move forward from being ‘for’ the bill or ‘against’ the bill, and work together on the details to allow the changes which give the best results for patients.