RCN says concerns remain over Health Bill
- Published on Thursday, 08 September 2011 15:59
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The Royal College of Nursing has reiterated its concerns over the Government’s planned NHS reforms following David Cameron’s suggestion that the RCN and other organisations supported the Health and Social Care Bill. Mr Cameron made his remarks during Prime Minister’s questions as the bill cleared its Commons stages yesterday
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “While we acknowledge that the Government have listened to our members in a number of areas, we still have very serious concerns about where these reforms leave a health service already facing an unprecedented financial challenge.”
In a message to members published as an RCN parliamentary briefing was sent to MPs and peers before the bill’s third reading, Dr Carter warned that patients’ and nurses’ interests are under threat through the combined effects of health service cuts, waste and bureaucracy, and key aspects of the bill.
The RCN has highlighted four key issues which must be addressed.
- Bureaucracy and red tape: the RCN fears that the new health service structures in England may cost more to run than the current set up. Millions are being spent dismantling strategic health authorities and primary care trusts but the structures that will replace them are complex and costly.
- Cuts to patient care and nurses’ jobs: the NHS in England has to find £20 billion of savings over the next four years; already waiting times are rising, patient services are being cut and 40,000 front line jobs are at risk.
- Waste in the NHS: the NHS is locked into hugely expensive private finance initiative (PFI) deals; the health service also wastes £250 million a year on unused medication and £500 million on inappropriate procurement practices.
- Private income and bonuses: the RCN thinks there should be strict limits on the amount of private income that hospitals can chase, because otherwise acutely ill patients may not get the priority they need. The RCN insists that any surplus achieved by the new clinical commissioning groups must be ploughed back into patient services, not into bonuses.
Dr Carter says the RCN is working on two fronts to protect patient care and safeguard members’ jobs. He says that tackling waste and improving efficiency should be the priority, not cutting jobs and services.
"At the same time we will continue to present detailed argument and analysis to Parliament on the detail of the [Health and Social Care] Bill to try and build on the changes that have been made and secure a change of direction on some of the most worrying aspects of the reforms,” he adds.