The NHS reforms are systematically taking power away from GPs and services away from patients, according to the new BMA Chair of Council.
Mark Porter, in a Guardian interview, has reasserted and updated the opposition of UK doctors to the Health and Social Care Act.
He pointed to the rationing and outsourcing of NHS services as evidence that the reform process is reducing “the NHS offer” year on year.
A major part of his argument related to the use of referral management centres and financial incentives to make GPs cut their referral rates. He said the former was “particularly distressing for GPs” who found their ability to meet patients’ needs “more constrained than ever before”.
Porter argued that GPs being offered money to cut their referral rates – for example, Harrow PCT has offered local GP surgeries up to £4 extra per patient if they “optimise the use of outpatient appointments” – is “morally wrong and professionally wrong”, since it creates a conflict of interests.
He also claimed that the rationing of procedures, which the Government has condemned, is an inevitable effect of austerity measures – and is leading to “the NHS offer” being systematically reduced.
Far from being banned through recent DH measures, he argued, NHS rationing is set to become “service-wide” within a few years.
In addition, he said, the new rule (operative from 1 October) that hospitals can reserve up to 49% of beds for private patients risks neglecting NHS patient safety.
The DH responded: “The NHS is treating more people and we are increasing the NHS budget in real terms.” It pointed to the QIPP savings of £5.8bn in 2011–12 as proving that the service “can meet the financial challenge set”.
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