The Health and Social Care Bill has returned to the House of Lords with peers urged to back the controversial reforms by a host of directors from NHS Trusts around the country.
A letter published in the Times states the potential income under the new system may result in a higher quality care for patients by commissioning treatments that are currently deemed too expensive.
The letter, signed by 53 NHS medical and clinical trust directors, says there are “sound medical and clinical reasons” for supporting the measures to introduce the option of commissioning services outside of the health service.
But despite the rare backing, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has again come under attack over his proposals. The Institute of Healthcare Management has today made the unprecedented move to oppose the Bill after associations for doctors, general practitioners, nurses and midwives previously made similar moves.
The letter defends the proposals to allow NHS trusts to earn up to 49% of their income from non-NHS sources. “It will enable us to bring much needed additional resources into our organisations to benefit NHS patients,” the letter reads.
“Examples of these benefits include developing treatment innovations and specialisms – such as complex paediatric treatment, robotic surgery, and employer-funded mental health treatment – and mean that trusts will be able to provide services on the NHS that can no longer be commissioned or are now rationed, including IVF.”
The directors argue that without this amendment being approved by peers the NHS will “lose millions of pounds of potential income and will lose the opportunity to expand and develop our clinical services.”
The Bill was returned to the Lords after the Government was forced to make numerous changes after cross-party opposition to the reforms. Prime Minister David Cameron insists that Andrew Lansley has his “full support”, despite a Downing Street advisor reportedly saying that he “should be taken out and shot”.
“The Prime Minister backs Andrew Lansley and he backs the reforms we are pushing through Parliament in order to deliver a better health service for the future,” a No. 10 spokesperson said.
“As far as we are concerned, the reforms are going to deliver a better NHS, one which will be freer of bureaucracy and have less political interference. It will mean that health care workers can get on with delivering care to patients.
“We have made our position very clear about what the reforms we are legislating for will do to improve the NHS and put the powers and decision-making ability into GPs’ hands.
“Understandably, lots of people have different views on our reforms, we accept that. We are very clear that they will deliver an NHS which is freer of bureaucracy. The fact is that we have to reform the NHS.”