28 April 2011
NHS Reform - Is the Government Listening?
For many comments by a public accounts committee may not sound like material to make the pulse race. But the committee is just the latest of a number of voices raising serious concerns about the government’s proposals to reform the NHS.
Since these comments come during a period when the Health Secretary has taken a 2 month ‘pause’ to carry out a ‘listening exercise’, they should be taken into account.One of their criticisms concerns the proposal that healthcare be increasingly ‘outsourced’ to private providers. However there is no provision for ensuring that patients continue to receive care even when a provider goes bust. Another is the likelihood that differing standards of care will be provided by GPs in different parts of the country – the so-called ‘postcode lottery’. The reality is that devolving decision-making will inevitably lead to varying methods and standards of care.There is very widespread concern among health professionals at the impact of these reforms and it is difficult to find doctors or NHS managers who are enthusiastic.
The chairman of the British Medical Association has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the impact of changes on the quality of healthcare.From the perspective of a team of lawyers working for people who have suffered devastating injuries as a result of medical accident, I am both aware of the need to improve healthcare but concerned at the sheer number of voices questioning whether market reforms will result in real improvements. It seems to me that if the Health Secretary really is listening during his ‘listening exercise’ we can expect to see wide scale changes to his proposals. However the government has already ruled out significant changes. So it is difficult to see what the purpose of all this ‘listening’.
Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or claim online and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.