The controversial healthcare reform bill has moved through the House of Commons with a majority of 65, and will now pass to the House of Lords for ratification. Despite the threat of LibDem opposition, only four voted against the Bill while 11 abstained.
Under the Health and Social Care Bill, which was paused in the face of mounting criticism while the government conducted a ‘listening’ exercise known as the NHS Future Forum, doctors will take charge of an £80 billion budget and be responsible for commissioning care for their patients. After the listening exercise a number of changes were made to the legislation.
But a row broke out after Prime Minister David Cameron claimed in PM’s Question Time that medical organisations were now in support of the Bill, saying: “Now you’ve got the Royal College of GPs, the physicians, the nurses, people working in the health service supporting the changes we’re making”.
But later the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing issued strong rebuttals. RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “While we acknowledge that the Government have listened to our members in a number of areas, we still have very serious concerns about where these reforms leave a health service already facing an unprecedented financial challenge.” The key issues the RCN feels must be addressed are bureaucracy, cuts to patient care and nursing jobs, waste in the NHS and private income.
And in a statement from Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, she said the organisation supports putting clinicians at the centre of planning health services but that it is “extremely worried that these reforms, if implemented in their current format, will lead to an increase in damaging competition, an increase in health inequalities, and to massively increased costs in implementing this new system.”
The Bill is expected to come up against more opposition from Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords.