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07-09-2011 | General practice | Article

Bill debate causes a stir


RCGP - Statement from Chair

The Health and Social Care Bill passed through the House of Commons yesterday, but comments made by the Prime Minister leading up to the vote provoked a backlash from the RCGP and other health bodies.

During Prime Minister's questions, David Cameron responded to opposition leader Ed Miliband's challenges by claiming that the RCGP, along with "the physicians, the nurses, people working in the health service", all support the Bill.

The RCGP promptly issued a statement from Chair Dr Clare Gerada, saying that it continues to have "a number of concerns about the government's reforms, issues which we believe may damage the NHS or limit the care we are able to provide for our patients".

"As a College we are extremely worried that these reforms, if implemented in their current format, will lead to an increase in damaging competition, an increase in health inequalities, and to massively increased costs in implementing this new system," Dr Gerada added.

Royal College of Nursing General Secretary Dr Peter Carter also refuted the claim, stating that the RCN still has "serious concerns" about the Bill, which he said "risks making inequalities worse".

The Bill passed by a majority of 65 votes, with four out of 57 Liberal Democrat MPs voting against it. Over the past week the BMA has issued calls for MPs to reject the Bill, while the Royal College of Physicians is continuing to lobby for changes to the legislation.

But GP commissioning champions NAPC this week restated their support for the Bill, despite having "serious reservations" over increased bureaucracy after it was amended.

NAPC executive Dr Charles Alessi said: "The challenges are complex and not without difficulty, but unless we move forward rapidly and with serious determination, the NHS of the future will be undoubtedly reduced and enfeebled."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price