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Issue #1584      March 6, 2013

Doctors “will walk” from NHS reform

BRITAIN: The government’s obsession with forcing competition in the NHS will see doctors abandon reforms, a leading architect of the changes has warned. NHS clinical commissioners interim president Dr Michael Dixon, who helped draft the Health and Social Care Act, expressed dismay at section 75 regulations that will force competition in the NHS and give rights to private companies.

Dr Dixon warned GPs risk taking “their eye off the ball” and getting “bogged down” in whether or not they are being competitive. He said section 75 “seems to put a duty” on the commissioner to go for competition with all contracts and believed GPs “will walk.”

Dr Dixon also pointed out that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) may have to defend expensive legal claims from private companies for not having put services out to tender.

“It is going to make everyone watch their back and a whole industry of people who challenge things back and forth as to whether they have been sufficiently competitive or not, and opens the window to providers to challenge the CCGs,” he said.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “It’s getting serious for the government when a leading advocate for their NHS plans believes doctors have been conned.”

Meanwhile more than 1,000 doctors and nurses have appealed to MPs to force a vote on section 75 regulations to stop their implementation at the start of next month.

The signatories said the regulations will “force virtually every part of the English NHS to be opened up to the private sector.” Unite union head of health Rachael Maskell said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt “can no longer ignore the professionals.

“He must now heed the warning of 1,000 doctors and one of the leading architects of the NHS reforms and scrap the section 75 regulations.”

Labour has tabled a motion in the House of Lords designed to kill off the regulations, which would bar “any restrictions on competition that are not necessary.”

Mr Burnham said: “Thousands of NHS staff at every level have written to newspapers and are signing petitions against these regulations turning the NHS into a full-blown commercial market – they know exactly what it’ll mean for the front-line NHS.

“The government needs to start listening and they should start by withdrawing these regulations without delay.”

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley claimed the regulations do not represent any change from the original NHS reforms approved by Parliament last year.

Morning Star  

Next article – Communists re-elected in Tripura, India

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