The Health Bill and GP Consortia - latest
So the Health Bill’s progress through Parliament is to be delayed by a month to allow for further consultation – just what the doctor ordered! Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to be involved in a ‘listening exercise’.
The initiative will be launched this week and is to be followed by a series of events throughout the Easter break and afterwards.
Some might say ‘too little too late’, with the Health Bill still on track for Royal Assent by the end of the year.
Clearly though, Government amendments are now expected after Mr Lansley told Parliament that he recognised there were some “genuine” concerns. Cynics might say this is a vain attempt to placate angry voters in the run up to the local elections next month.
We need a coalition of all the key bodies, the BMA, the NHS Confederation, together with the DoH, to progress things quickly. With PCTs already being clustered and key people leaving the NHS in droves, the fat lady is clearing her throat.
It would help of course if ministers were fully briefed. At a recent Kingston Smith seminar on consortia, Health Minister Simon Burns unequivocally stated that consortia would not be inheriting PCT deficits (plainly not the case because at present, from 6 April through to April 2013, any deficits are going to be the responsibility of the new consortia).
The House of Commons’ cross-party Health Committee, chaired by respected former Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, proposes wider involvement on commissioning from other specialisms. This has to be commended, but only if qualified experts and not politicians join the table.
Health is a hugely emotional issue; it is also very costly. Balancing resource is key. Matching resource with prioritised and rationalised need is crucial. Individual consortia will not operate efficiently without clearly defined parameters. Is there sufficient time left before the fat lady takes to her feet?