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End top-down NHS reform, say groups

Politicians have been urged not to perform another top-down reorganisation of the NHS by leading health bodies.

The organisations urged all political parties to pledge that they will not impose another major restructure of the health service in the run-up to the next general election.

While changes are needed to improve the health and care system, they must not come from another major structural reorganisation, according to the coalition of health bodies.

Following the last election, the Government moved forward with its widely criticised plans to reform the health service. The controversial Health and Social Care Act came into force in April last year changing many of the structures within the health service.

Now the 21 organisations, which include a number of charities, some royal colleges and other professional bodies, said that changes are still needed to improve care but said that the next government must avoid " one size fits all" models for reform.

The bodies have set out a series of recommendations for politicians and the next government in a pre-election document.

"We ask all political parties to commit publicly that they will not impose another top-down structural reorganisation on the NHS, and will instead focus on enabling locally-led improvement of care," the document states.

"Politicians must recognise that change in the way we organise care is necessary, and that this change will be driven locally and must be right for the local population."

The NHS Confederation, one of the 21 organisations, also condemned politicians "summer of silence" on the issues facing the health and social care system.

"We have had a summer of silence, punctuated by announcements on parking, contracting and hospital food," said Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

"These are important issues but none of them tackle the fundamental challenges.

"Today, we have set out a clear vision of a future health service which is better for patients and is sustainable. We look to politicians of all parties for honesty, courage and substance between now and the general election."

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