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Reforms are 'genuine risk' to quality of patient care

10 February, 2012

The Society and the Allied Health Professions Federation have again both unequivocally come out against the government's proposals to reform the National Health Service.

At the most recent meeting of the Society's UK Council (8 February), firm opposition to the Bill currently going through parliament was expressed, despite the changes that have been made since last year's pause for consultation.

Echoing the Society's concerns, the AHPF has written to the prime minister saying that it cannot support the legislation in its current form. Under the signature of Gill Dolbear, the Chair of the Federation and a former president of the Society, the letter said, "We firmly believe that the legislation and implementation guidelines as currently proposed contain a genuine risk to the continued and sustainable provision of a health and social care service that meets the needs of patients."

"There are two key areas to which both the Society and AHPF are opposed," Gill explained.

"Firstly, the proposal to introduce competition into commissioning could be damaging to integrated care pathways. The National Health Service is there to serve patients and this proposal would be acting against their interests.

"Also, it is inappropriate to impose a major top down structural reorganisation on the whole of health and social care at a time of required and unprecedented efficiency savings of £20 billion by 2015. These savings need to be driven by clinician led service redesign, without those same clinicians being distracted by wholesale system change," she continued.

"The Society and AHPF firmly believes that the legislation and implementation guidelines as currently proposed contain a genuine risk to the standard and quality of patient care."

An editorial leader in The Times newspaper of 8 February which said that competition in healthcare was one positive aspect of the reforms, sparked a sharp letter to the editor from Richard Evans, the Society's Chief Executive Officer.

Published in the paper the next day, Richard's letter pointed out that "there is no evidence that competition in healthcare services improves the quality of care. In fact, research studies consistently show the contrary.

"The opposition of health professionals to competition in the National Health Service is not on grounds of ideology or principle, but it is on the basis that it is the detriment of the patient.

"Patients want and need a consistent and high quality pathway through diagnosis, treatment and, if required, ongoing social care. Different services provided by a range of providers mitigates against this ideal. Inevitably, communication is fragmented and it is the patient who suffers."

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