Many doctors think the proposed NHS reforms will bring more risks than benefits, a survey for the BMA has shown.
An Ipsos MORI survey of BMA members has revealed that the majority of doctors are not convinced that the potential benefits of the government’s plans for the NHS in England outweigh the risks.
The reforms were laid out in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS in July 2010 and this year’s Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently going through its House of Commons committee stage.
A third (33%) of respondents said they are broadly opposed to the reforms, around a fifth (18%) are broadly supportive, and just over a third (36%) say they are waiting to see what happens. However, even within the ‘pro-reforms’ group, 67% agree that increased competition in the NHS will lead to a fragmentation of services.
Several statements had high levels of agreement among the 1,645 respondents, these were:
· Increased competition in the NHS will lead to a fragmentation of services (89% agree)
· Increased competition in the NHS will reduce the quality of patient care (65% agree)
· The move for all NHS providers to become, or be part of, foundation trusts will damage NHS values (66% agree)
· The proposed system of clinician-led commissioning will increase health inequalities (66% agree)
The survey also suggests that doctors believe the changes that are most likely to be achieved are those which are least welcome, such as increased competition between providers, and the changes that would be most beneficial are least likely to be achieved, i.e. closer working between general practice and hospitals.
Three fifths of respondents (61%) think it likely that the reforms will lead to them spending less time with patients, a change which only 1% would welcome.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA (pictured), said: “This survey shows that the government can no longer claim widespread support among doctors as justification for these flawed policies. The government simply cannot afford to dismiss this strength of feeling amongst the group they are expecting to lead much of the change.”