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The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) caused enormous damage to the NHS, with only five per cent of doctors in England agreeing that it improved the quality of services for patients.
The publication of the National Health Service (amended Duties and Powers) Bill seems like a positive step towards removing some of the worst elements of the HSCA and nowhere is this more important than in the over-emphasis on competition over integration, and its demonstrable failure to improve patient care. At the same time, we must ensure this legislation does not result in even more political interference in the NHS.
The BMA supports the Bill’s intention to reverse the decision to remove final accountability for the NHS from the Health Secretary, making it clear that the Government must retain ultimate responsibility for the provision of a comprehensive health service. NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups must, however, have day-to-day operational independence. After years of the NHS being used as a political football we are concerned that the Bill expands the Health Secretary’s powers too far in a number of areas and so care must be taken to ensure that the legislation does not risk introducing even more political interference in the daily running of the NHS. The cost of introducing the Health and Social Care Act ran into billions with very little to show for it. It is vital that policy makers do not repeat the mistakes of the past and use this Bill as a precursor for further unnecessary, top-down structural change.
Do you think this new Bill has the power to fix some of the problems created by the Health and Social Care Act? Tell us what you think.