RCGP Members Support Withdrawal of the Bill says RCGP Survey.

Nearly three quarters of respondents to a poll carried out by the Royal College of General Practitioners think that it is appropriate to seek the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.

When asked if the College should call for the Bill to be withdrawn as part of a joint approach with other medical royal colleges, more than 98% of respondents said they strongly supported (65.8%) or supported (32.4%) such action.

Even without a joint approach, more than 90% of respondents still said that they either strongly supported (55.8%) or supported (37.0%) the College in proceeding alone in calling for the Bill’s withdrawal.

With nearly 2,600 completed responses, this latest poll, the last of three surveys commissioned by RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada to assess the views of the College membership and conducted using online tool SurveyMonkey, has attracted the largest response yet.

More than 60% of respondents said that they felt more negative about the impact of the Health and Social Care Bill on the NHS than they did at the time of the College’s last survey in the autumn, with only 5.3% saying they felt more positive. Less than 14% of respondents (360) said that they believed the reforms would result in better patient care.

As before, respondents were asked what they thought the result of the reforms would be, and:

  • Nearly 60% (1,559 respondents) said the reforms would not result in more cost-effective deliver of care
  • Nearly 90% (2,346 respondents) said that the reforms would increase the involvement of the private sector, and
  • More than three quarters (1,971 respondents) said that the reforms would not reduce bureaucracy in the NHS.

In light of the survey’s findings, the College has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley reiterating its concerns and calling for changes to be made. These include:

  • The Secretary of State’s existing duty to provide, or secure the provision of, a comprehensive health service throughout England, must be retained
  • Clarification on the face of the Bill that commissioners will not be required to open up services to competition unless it can be demonstrated that this would be in the patient’s best interests and compatible with the requirements of patient safety and the ability to provide integrated care
  • The introduction of  further safeguards on education and training, including robust mechanisms to ensure the provision of sufficient post graduate training places, and the long term retention of post graduate deaneries

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada said:

“The headline results of our latest straw poll are of course very revealing, but there is also very strong support for continuing to work with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, and other parties, to press for changes, and this work will continue over the next few weeks.

“The RCGP is the largest body of GPs in the UK, and with over 44,000 members (33,837 in England), is also the largest medical royal college. We are not a political organisation, but these results speak volumes about how our members – across the UK – feel about these reforms, and the effect they will have on the NHS, and the care we provide to our patients.

“The Report Stage of the Bill is expected to be held in the House of Lords at the end of January, so it is timely for us to reiterate our concerns and show the Government that we want to continue working with them to bring about positive change for the benefit of our patients.

“Our list of recommendations and concerns is not new – we have been asking for these to be considered since the Bill came into being, and said as much when we wrote to the Prime Minister in the summer. Our members have once more made it clear that very real concerns with the Bill remain. This survey makes it clear that if any changes made are not strong enough to address these concerns, there is strong support within the profession not only for us to call for more change urgently but also, should the situation warrant it, for the withdrawal of the Bill itself.”

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