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Health reforms 'will involve risk'

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said there is "risk" involved with his radical NHS reforms, but change was necessary to improve standards for patients.

There would be a "greater risk" if the health service was not shaken up, Mr Lansley said.

Under the Health and Social Care Bill, most of the NHS budget will pass to GPs who will take control of commissioning services for patients. Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts (PCTs), which currently commission services, will be abolished.

The plans were denounced earlier this month by six health service unions - including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing - as "potentially disastrous".

Speaking to BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, the Health Secretary said: "I didn't say there wasn't risk. Of course there's risk because there's change.

"But actually if we don't change, the greater risk is that these problems that we have at the moment that we have to deal with won't be solved."

The NHS budget would be increased by £10.7 billion over the next four years but spending alone was "not the answer", Mr Lansley said.

"We discovered under Labour spending money isn't the answer, we have to deliver the results for patients. We don't get the results we should compared with other European countries; if we did, we would save thousands of lives."

The reforms would result in a redundancy bill of £1 billion, he said, but savings would reach £5 billion over the course of this parliament and around half of PCT staff would continue to be employed.

Defending the sweeping changes, Mr Lansley said: "How many patients have actually been treated directly by a Primary Care Trust? I'll tell you what actually runs the system - General Practice already makes most of the decisions about the care of patients in the community and their referrals and prescribing."


From Belfast Telegraph