Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, announced today that the government will push ahead with radical plans to shake up the NHS – the biggest shift in power and accountability in its 62-year history – despite opposition from almost every part of the health service.
Among those raising the alarm in the 6,000 responses to the white paper – about the size and scale of the planned reforms – were the Royal College of GPs, trade unions, and the respected health think tank the King's Fund.The British Medical Association described the timetable for the reforms as "foolish" and warned that patient care could suffer as a result. Lansley said critics' claims were unfounded.
"We are going to have tight financial control, we are going to continuously improve the quality of service that we give to patients and we are also creating space for this new devolved decision-making coming from the bottom up," he told the BBC.
At the heart of the change is the shift of £80bn of taxpayers' money into the hands of England's 35,000 family doctors who operate as essentially private businesses. Lansley admitted that he had conducted no surveys of GPs before launching the white paper – despite outright opposition from four in 10 doctors.The health secretary said the government will produce a parliamentary bill next month to abolish the 152 primary care trusts, which at present buy treatments on behalf of patients, by 2013. Also going are the 10 strategic health authorities, which Lansley says are a tier of bureaucracy. Instead GPs will be forced to band together into "consortia" to purchase hospital care and manage budgets to pay for it.
by Courtesy of Guardian