13 Jun 2011

Have doctors done Andrew Lansley a favour on the NHS reforms?

At the King’s Fund for the publication of the NHS Future Forum report – the results of the “pause, listen, reflect” exercise.

Well, the real results have been forming in parallel in government, as they always do on occasions like this. Government doesn’t abdicate power over a potent policy area like this to an outside body no matter how distinguished. That was painfully clear to forum members last week as the PM started announcing his own measures before this body published its thoughts.

So what about the changes the expert panel has come up with? Is this a major re-think?

Monitor’s focus on competition should be “diluted,” the report says. But I get the impression the forum thinks the wording in the original bill was more of a problem than the design. As the chair, Professor Steve Field, just said: “The principles of the bill are very sound.”

Stephen Bubb thinks the Government got carried away with the language and model of a utilities regulator.

Likewise, does the Secretary of State have a responsibility for the running of the NHS? Steve Field just said he found people in the consultation were concerned about “what appears to be written” in the Bill about the NHS becoming less of a national organisation. He didn’t say the Government design was wrong.

You come away with the impression that this body has concluded that there were presentational problems in the NHS reforms more than substantive ones.

Read more on how the NHS reforms might change

“Involvement” of non-GPs in consortia – a requirement to listen to others not to have them on the main decision-making consortia themselves – is another area where Andrew Lansley will be pleased his original design has not been abandoned even if it has been entangled.

Originally, Prof Field at the start of this exercise said that there would have to be non GPs sitting on the GP consortia. The report concludes, though, that there should be no such requirement placed on GP consortia. We’ll get a bit more detail from the PM, DPM and Andrew Lansley tomorrow but in their hour long meeting with the forum leaders today the doctors said the politicians seemed very happy and that “we’d done them a favour.”

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