Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Lisa Smeaton (HS 84)

I write to you as a member of the public who would like to comment as part of the Health and Social Care Bill Consultation . I have read about the proposed reforms and my conclusion is that I am not in agreement with the proposed reforms and have very serious concerns about the proposals.

My major concerns about the bill include:

The huge potential for postcode lottery care with different GP consortia approving different treatment. Will patients have to lobby for treatment?

The increasing use of private healthcare in the NHS. The goal of these organisations to make profit for their shareholders. Patients and the taxpayer will not be their highest priority. Additionally these organisations are likely to ‘cherry pick’ the profitable parts of the sector.

Many GPs do not want to become ‘accountants’. The Secretary of State for Health believes that the fact that a number of GP consortia have been established is evidence of their agreement to the proposals. However from speaking to GPs who I know personally and reading information online it is quite clear that many GPs think the reforms are a ‘disaster’ but are only establishing consortia to protect their patients from a private healthcare consortia filling the gap. There is no mandate for this Bill from the medical profession or patients.

It is not clear how training of student/newly qualified doctors, nurses and other health professionals will be addressed. Currently this is part of the NHS and more senior colleagues spend time mentoring and educating trainees. I think it is highly unlikely that any private health providers will wish to contribute to this non-profit making exercise.

The reforms will cost billions to implement at a time of budget cutting and seems an inappropriate time to spend so much money.

There will be very limited public access or involvement to the decision making process. Presently PCT’s offer some transparency and the public can become involved. I believe the engagement/auditing/reviewing process planned will be tokenism and ineffective.

Finally this reform of the NHS was not offered to the general public at the General Election and breaks the ‘no-more top down reforms’ even though it has clearly been under development for some time and so I believe the public has been misled and lied to. The NHS is a crucial aspect of life in this country and therefore I suggest that the Bill is put on hold and offered at the next General Election.

Finally I note that the RCGP, the BMA, the RCN, Civitas, the Nuffield Trust and major health charities and the Royal College of Surgeons all have major reservations about the proposals and yet their comments and feedback has been ignored.

I would be very grateful if my comments could be taken into consideration as part of the consultation process.

March 2011