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Calls for health reforms to be axed

More than 90% of readers of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) believe the Government's health reforms should be scrapped, according to a poll.

Of 2,947 votes cast on over the last week, 2,706 said the reforms should go while 241 said they should stay. It comes as editorials published online in the BMJ express concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill.

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund, argues that an "important weakness in the continuing programme of healthcare reform in England is the Government's failure to value the role of managers in the NHS and to recognise the vital contribution they make alongside clinicians in ensuring the provision of high quality care."

He continued: "Although the NHS may be over-administered as a result of the emphasis placed by successive governments on regulation and implementation of national standards and targets, the proportion of the budget spent on management is not excessive compared with other organisations.

"If anything, the NHS is under-managed and needs to recruit and retain leaders from a variety of backgrounds - clinical and non-clinical - if it is to meet the financial and other challenges that lie ahead."

He says putting doctors in charge of budgets "may bring some benefits but without the right support they are doomed to fail" and that, in the absence of effective management, "the performance of the NHS will suffer to the detriment of patients and the public."

In a separate editorial, Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said his "confusion is only deepening" over the proposed NHS reforms, with many things still unclear.

The concerns come as the Government announced the first estimates for funding under the proposed new structure for the NHS. Some £65 billion could be passed to Clinical Commissioning Groups run by GPs and other health professionals, with another £5.2 billion spent on public health services.

The NHS Commissioning Board will be responsible for around £21 billion.

The Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Radiologists and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have all stated their opposition to the Bill. The unions the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have also called for the Bill to be withdrawn.


From Belfast Telegraph