NHS Reforms To Get 'Significant Alteration'

NHS Reforms To Get 'Significant Alteration'

The controversial NHS reforms are expected to be significantly altered following a review by health experts this week.

The NHS Future Forum will make a series of recommendations to address concerns raised by doctors and nurses about the Government's plans.

It's likely that there will be controls to ensure new private and voluntary hospitals compete with existing NHS facilities on a level playing field. And hospital consultants and nurses will join local groups of GPs in deciding how patient care is organised.

The Forum has held more than 200 meetings with health professionals since the Prime Minister slammed the brakes on the Health and Social Care Bill eight weeks ago.

The Bill had been widely criticised by health unions and was driving a wedge between the Lib Dems and Conservatives. It was likely to be blocked in the House of Lords, forcing the rethink.

David Cameron said last week that the reforms "were too important to get wrong."

He said competition between hospitals was key to driving up standards of care, but vowed that private providers would not have an unfair advantage over NHS facilities, which have bigger overheads and responsibilities for training doctors.

The Government has said it will wait for the forum's report before making any changes to the reforms. But the Prime Minister signalled that significant concessions are likely in an effort to win the support of health workers.

The South Reading Consortium of GPs is already testing out the reforms. GPs redesigned the service for patients with back pain, reducing referrals to hospital by 85%. They are keen to take over the budget to force through further changes.

Dr Elizabeth Johnston said: "It will allow us to ask, 'Is that best value for money for the patient and the NHS?'. But overall our aim is to improve the quality of care for our patients."

But London GP Dr Gary Marlowe says money and competition have no place in the NHS.

"It is completely alien to me and my colleagues. It is unnecessary for us to provide good healthcare to bring money into the everyday conversation," Dr Marlowe said.

"All doctors are aware we are using public money and that it is incumbent on us to use that money as wisely as possible. I don't think we need a market and competition to focus our minds on that."