Scrap NHS Bill, says Royal College
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has called for the Health Bill to be withdrawn - just three days after meeting the Prime Minister to discuss the controversial reforms.
Its president, Professor Terence Stephenson, said the college never supported the Bill but it was now clear a substantial majority of voting members believe it "carries risk for children and young people".
He said there was also "deep concern" among the wider health profession and public over the impact of the Bill on patient care.
The Government's determination to push the Bill through is "creating disaffection amongst the very people - the clinicians - who will be delivering these changes on the ground", he added.
A survey of 1,492 college members found 79% want the Health and Social Care Bill to be scrapped. They voted for the college to call for the "outright withdrawal" of the Bill rather than continue to push for amendments.
The move will be an embarrassment for the Government, which has come under fire for failing to get health professionals on board with the reforms.
Prof Stephenson said: "Despite revisions and assurances from Government, there remains widespread and deep concern amongst not only our members, but also the wider health profession and public, about the Bill's impact on patient care.
"The RCPCH has never at any stage supported the Bill but we have consistently engaged with Government to try and push for amendments to ensure the best outcomes for children. Although we have secured some changes - such as the Children's Forum - it's our membership's views that these do not go far enough.
"At the NHS summit which I attended earlier this week, the Prime Minister made it clear that the Government will press ahead with the Bill. Yet pushing the Bill through is creating disaffection amongst the very people - the clinicians - who will be delivering these changes on the ground when the reality is that there are areas of reform where the healthcare profession are in agreement, most obviously the principle of clinically led commissioning and improving how services are delivered."
Nick Clegg launched another defence of the Bill during a visit to Gloucestershire, saying: "I'm a Liberal Democrat who, like everyone in my party, cares passionately about the NHS. If I thought that this piece of legislation would lead to the privatisation of the NHS, I would have dropped it ages ago."