MP’s criticise Health Reforms

A committee of MPs believe that the changes proposed by Andrew Lansley‘s health reforms are obstructing efforts to make the NHS more efficient, and that the reforms fail to address how to care better for an expanding elderly population.

The highly critical report by the cross-party select committee on health, that is due to be published on Tuesday, comes as the medical establishment prepares its own summit on Thursday to discuss concerns over the health and social care bill.

The report which is the findings of a committee chaired by Stephen Dorrell, the former Conservative health secretary  will probably cause alarm in Downing Street as the committee has both a Tory and Liberal Democrat majority, and the report shows concern over the Health Secretary’s attempts to restructure the NHS in England where more power will be given to GPs are making it more difficult to deliver on a separate target of £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014-15.

The report echoes the widespread view in the medical profession that it is deeply unwise to be inflicting far-reaching structural reform on the NHS at the same time as asking it to make huge savings. The committee believes that far from finding savings by innovation and greater efficiency, a lot of hospitals are simply cutting their services, despite the Health Secretary’s assurance that this wouldn’t happen. The Committee said it has heard that the ‘innovation’ and efficiency measures have created more disruption and distraction than reform of the service delivery and saving.

The report voices frustration that Lansley’s plans fail to grasp the real challenge facing a cash-strapped NHS – that of moving more care into the community in order to provide better, more affordable and more integrated social and health services for the elderly. Members of the committee, including Dorrell, are known to be concerned at the rising cost to the NHS of caring for elderly patients, many of whom could be kept out of hospital if they were offered help to live at home or in the community. The Bill is expected to return to the House of Lords next month for it’s report stage on the 8th February.

Andy Burnham the Shadow Health Minister said: “The committee have delivered a damning verdict on Lansley’s mishandling of the NHS. It is time for David Cameron to listen to what doctors, nurses and now his own senior MPs are saying and call a halt to this reckless reorganisation.”

However more than 50 GPs from the NHS Alliance who are involved in the commissioning and controlling of the NHS budgets under the changes, have been critical of the British Medical Association’s policy of “blanket opposition” to the health and social care bill. The senior group of GPs claim that previous reforms have not gone far enough and the health service has in the past paid the price for a lack of reform.

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