The NHS changes will case damage to the system in the UK, according to a letter from leading public health officials and doctors. A letter to peers who will hold a debate about the reform next week, nearly 400 experts in public health called for a rejection of the changes as the risk to both patent care and safety was too high.
According to the letter, the overhaul will fragment services, and potentially hurt campaigns for vaccinations and screenings. The government says that reforms will allow more choice for patients. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is due to speak today to the Conservative Party conference.
The proposals have already been put on hold last spring due to criticism from academics, MP’s, and members of the medical industry. Ministers therefore made concessions to the plan, giving professionals other than GPs more power over NHS spending in addition to decreasing the competition.
However, though the Prime Minister claimed that the NHS backed the new changes, the letter shows a strong amount of opposition, including Sir Michael Marmot, one of the leading experts on health inequalities globally, and 26 public health directors as signatories.
“The bill will do irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients, and to society as a whole. [The plans will] fragment patient care, aggravate risks to individual patient safety…and undermine the ability of the health system to respond effectively and efficiently to communicable disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies. The government claims that the reforms have the backing of the health professionals. They do not. Neither do they have the general support of the public,” the letter reads.
Public health chief Dr. David McCoy, from inner north-west London, has signed the letter, and advocated a “collaborative approach” to healthcare, arguing that the spending cuts and radical change in the plan could impact important areas of public health. The Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association had also criticized the changes before this letter had been sent.
John Healey, shadow health secretary, claimed that David Cameron was in denial about his plans, arguing that they would significantly damage the NHS. According to the Department of Health, the plans to “modernize” the system would allow more choice, eliminate waste, and improve care, saying that many health professionals supported the plans.