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16-05-2011 | General practice | Article

Cameron reaffirms reforms support


Department of Health: Prime Minister’s speech on the NHS

Prime Minister David Cameron has reaffirmed his commitment to reform of the NHS, including greater involvement of clinicians in commissioning.

In a speech to NHS staff in West London, the Prime Minister did not give details of any changes the Government may make to the Health Bill, but indicated a commitment to an "NHS free from political control" and a "new and independent National Commissioning Board, staffed with senior doctors".

He highlighted concerns that Primary Care Trust commissioning is "the weakest link" in the English NHS, with managers lacking clinical knowledge - and suggested that at least one change to the proposals would be to involve secondary care clinicians and nurses as well as GPs in commissioning.

Cameron asserted that the NHS needs to undergo major reform to adapt to the growing pressure of an ageing population, the rising prevalence of long-term conditions and to give patients access to the most advanced treatments.

The speech, seen by commentators as a timely move to retake control of the reforms debate, also sought to ease concerns over destabilisation, with reference to "choice for patients, not competition for its own sake".

Commenting on the speech, Chair of Council at the BMA Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "We agree with the Prime Minister that the NHS needs to change. There needs to be greater integration, greater efficiency and more emphasis on prevention.

"However, the Health Bill as it is currently written would make these improvements far harder to achieve, leading to a more fragmented health service, with many hospitals at risk of closure. Whilst we welcome his commitment to listening to staff and to taking them with him, most doctors will not feel able to support the Bill unless it is radically amended."

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

By Caroline Price