Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Government 'ignoring health fears'

Under Government NHS reforms GPs will take hold of the purse strings from 2013

The Government is ignoring concerns about "risky" plans for overhauling the NHS, campaigners and unions said.

Ministers were also accused of "masking" a funding shortfall for hospitals as the health service tries to find up to £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015.

The Government said today £89 billion will go direct to primary care trusts (PCTs) for frontline services next year, which it insisted was equivalent to a £2.6 billion (3%) increase in funding.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said it did not accept the claim, arguing that local services are already being "rationed".

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "The stated 3% increase in funding for primary care trusts includes £1 billion already announced to cover additional social care responsibilities and masks the fact that hospitals will have to do a lot more work to achieve the same income."

The BMA and other unions also criticised the Government's response to a consultation on its white paper to reform the NHS.

Ministers said they intended to push ahead with the radical plans, which will abolish PCTs and strategic health authorities (SHAs).

GPs will take control of most of the NHS budget by 2013, planning hospital care and services for patients.

Some 52 "GP consortia" have already signed up to manage local NHS budgets, covering a quarter of the population.

The Government said it had listened to the concerns and made amendments, such as placing commissioning of maternity services with GPs instead of a National Commissioning Board and allowing a "longer and more phased transition period" for some reforms.

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