UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has announced that his government has accepted the “core” changes to the controversial NHS reforms recommended by the NHS Future Forum. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg emphasized that the reforms would be introduced “at the right pace – evolution, not revolution”.

David Cameron said:

“We have listened, we have learned, and
we are improving our plans for the NHS”.

Cameron’s government has accepted the following changes:

  • That the GP groups responsible for commissioning healthcare services liaise closely with nurses, consultants (specialist doctors) and other healthcare professionals
  • The regulator Monitor has to protect patient interests above all else, and must not promote competition as an end in itself
  • Closer cooperation between the NHS and the private sector. Safeguards against cherry-picking only money-making NHS businesses
  • Commissioning groups should become operative when they are ready, and not by 2013

Mr Cameron announced to staff at Guy’s Hospital, London:

“The fundamentals of our plans – more control for patients, more power to doctors and nurses, and less bureaucracy in the NHS – are as strong today as they have ever been. But the detail of how we are going to make this all work has really changed as a direct result of this consultation. We have listened, we have learned, and we are improving our plans for the NHS. Ten weeks ago we paused our legislation. Today we show how we are improving.”

Mr Clegg said:

“The NHS isn’t a machine. You can’t flick a switch and turn it on and off. It’s a living, breathing part of our lives. Reforming an institution like that takes time. We have to be careful and considered. It’s too important to get this wrong.”

The Deputy Prime Minister said the bill will now go back to the committee stage so that MPs may consider the changes in detail, before sending it to the House of Lords. It had completed most of its passage through the House of Commons.

The Bill’s original aim was to do away with two tiers of management and create new bodies, led by GPs (Commissioning Consortia) – they would be responsible for buying £60 billion’s worth of treatment each year.

Watering down the plans for the NHS may have been described as “positive for the Coalition” by the Conservatives, but the Liberal Democrats saw it as their victory.

There is growing anger among Conservative members of parliament that David Cameron is pandering to the Liberal-Democrats and leaving Health Secretary Andrew Lansley “hung out to dry”. They see this acceptance of the Forum’s recommendations as a U-turn on reforms.

Mr Lansley has been criticized for not being able to garner widespread support for the bill. However, the Prime Minister today says he accepts full responsibility.

Mr Cameron said:

“I am every bit as responsible as Andrew Lansley for the fact that we actually decided we could improve on what we already put forward. I do not attempt in any way to pass the blame to anybody else.”

Leader of the opposition Labour party, Ed Miliband said:

“David Cameron should never have rushed into reforms that weren’t properly thought through and didn’t command the confidence of the medical profession. The problem now is that he’s still going ahead with a bureaucratic reorganisation that’s going to waste billions of pounds.”

Mr Clegg told over 100 Lib-Dem MPs (members of parliament) and peers last night:

“Our overall demands – slow the pace of change, don’t give preference to the private sector and proper accountability – all of these have been very, very handsomely met.” When he finished speaking there was an “extended banging of the tables.”

The future of the NHS has been an extremely controversial theme within the current coalition government.

Chairman of the NHS Future Forum, Prof. Steve Field, said:

“I don’t believe that this is an issue that is meant to be a political football. I believe the time for political argument is coming to an end.”

Dr Hamish Meldrum, the head of the BMA (British Medical Association), said:

“If the Government does accept the recommendations we have heard today we will be seeing, at the least, a dramatically different Health and Social Care Bill and one that would get us on to a much better track.”

Background Information:
“Modernization Of National Health Service, NHS Future Forum Published Recommendations, UK”

Written by Christian Nordqvist