GPs’ leader calls for scrapping of NHS Bill

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The Government’s Health Bill will make the work of family doctors’ “infinitely harder” and threatens to damage their relationships with patients, a GPs’ leader warned.

In a letter to all GPs in England, the chairman of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) general practitioners committee Laurence Buckman called on the Government to scrap the Bill.

At a meeting this week, the committee agreed that the legislation – currently going through the House of Lords – was “complex, incoherent and not fit for purpose” and would be “irreversibly damaging to the NHS”.

Downing Street said this morning it was “confident” that the Bill will become law in England by the time of the Queen’s Speech on May 9.

But Liberal Democrat activists are hoping to derail the legislation by tabling a motion at their party’s spring conference next week calling for it to be ditched.

The BMA has already come out in opposition to the Bill and has called on GPs to write to their MPs outlining their concerns before it returns to the House of Commons later this month.

Dr Buckman said that GPs initially welcomed the plans for clinically-led commissioning, and many have already set up clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to give their patients more choice over their treatments.

But he warned: “Over time, it has become clear that this is the most top-down reorganisation the NHS has seen since its inception.”

The legislation will create a “new network of bureaucracy” and “the ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish”, he said. Budgets will be too small for commissioning groups to function unless they unite into “large and remote units”.

Unless GPs take an active stand, commissioning powers and the day-to-day running is likely to be outsourced to private organisations which provide commissioning support services, said Dr Buckman.

The committee has “strong objections” to the Bill’s expansion of competition within the NHS, which it fears could result in fragmented care, the sale of parts of the NHS to private interests and “more chaos at a time when the NHS needs more stability”.