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Wednesday 11 May 2011



NHS Reforms

The Petition of residents of York, and others,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the Government’s health reforms will break up NHS services and that these reforms will result in business motives cutting deeply into the fairness, quality and value of the service at the expense of patient care; that the Petitioners believe the reforms will lead to a postcode lottery, with patients’ age, medical condition and home address affecting the quality of care they receive; that cuts to frontline jobs and services will lead to longer waiting times; that money will be wasted on the NHS market bureaucracy, draining it from patient care; and that there will be a big increase in private companies running the health service for profit.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider the reforms so that patients remain at the heart of the NHS.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Hugh Bayley , Official Report, 3 May 2011; Vol. 527, c. 645.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Health:

The issue referred to relates to the Health and Social Care Bill, which completed its Committee stage on 31 March. However, the Government recognise that the speed of progress has brought with it some substantive concerns. While Ministers recognise that some of those concerns are genuine, some are misplaced or based on misrepresentations.

Ministers believe that the NHS is a great institution, but that it could be still better. The Government’s plans seek to put clinicians at the heart of planning services to improve the care for their patients—there is a body of evidence both from this country and internationally about the importance of involving clinicians in commissioning decisions and this is what our proposals are built upon.

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Frontline clinicians will be empowered to be the leaders of a more autonomous NHS, with increased accountability to their local populations.

This is not about privatising the NHS. The NHS is built on the principle that it is free at the point of use for everyone based on need, not ability to pay. This will not change. Competition in the NHS helps to improve quality and efficiency by allowing people to choose the provider that they wish from a list of accredited providers: as the patient chooses the provider for their care but does not pay for it directly, price plays little part in their decision. However, it will be in providers’ interests to maintain and improve the quality of their services to attract patients.

With regard to the residents of York and others’ specific concerns, the Department is taking the opportunity of a natural break in the passage of the Bill to pause, listen, and engage with all those who want the NHS to succeed, and subsequently to bring forward amendments to improve the Bill further.

There is widespread agreement that the principles on which the Bill is based, such as improving public accountability, devolving control of the NHS to local levels and placing patients at the heart of decisions about their own care, are the right ones. However, Ministers recognise that there are also some questions and concerns about what the Department is doing, and about the mechanics of putting these principles into practice.

As such, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State launched an engagement exercise on 6 April so that Ministers can understand what is already working well, hear suggestions for implementing the reforms successfully and consider possible ways to improve the Bill.

The Government want to make sure they capture the views of everyone who cares about the NHS. Members of the public are able to feed their views into the listening exercise through patient and professional networks, by posting their thoughts on the Modernisation of Health and Care website at: www.dh.gov.uk/healthandcare or by writing to:

NHS Modernisation Listening Exercise

Room 605

Richmond House

79 Whitehall

London SW1 A 2NS

Email: nhsfutureforum@dh.gsi.gov.uk