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Survey shows scant support for health reforms

Only 7% of health professionals like the shake-up

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 02 May 2013

Only 7% of healthcare professionals working in primary and community care support the government’s current NHS reform programme.

This is the finding of Primary Concerns - A Survey of Healthcare Professionals (published by pan-European healthcare publishing and research company Campden Health), which polled 1122 healthcare professionals.

Opposition came from 58% of the 1122 GPs, nurses and practice managers polled while the remainder was ambivalent. Of those who opposed the reforms 64% said they saw the changes as a step towards privatisation. Almost two-thirds described the reforms as ‘a distraction from caring for patients’, 58% said it would mean doctors spending too much time on management and 47% believe the shake-up amounts to ‘a waste of money’.

Worryingly, only 55% of primary care professionals said they would be happy for a member of their own family to be treated at the local hospital.

Commenting on the findings, NHS Clinical Commissioning Community Lead Dr James Kingsland, suggested the lack of support resulted from uncertainty about what the reforms would mean for day-to-day practice rather than out and out opposition.

“At the outset from the White Paper it was about changing culture, behaviours in clinical practice and demonstrating an improvement of service for patients. We have, partly understandably, spent a lot of the last two years on just building new structures which has led clinicians to question what their ability is to improve the services they provide. It’s the chicken and the egg - can we change the service without having the support structure to facilitate that. I still think this is one of our best opportunities to reform the service. It may be our last opportunity to rejuvenate the NHS.”

And he expressed surprise at the high number of healthcare professionals who said they would be unhappy for a family member to use their local hospital.

“That’s one of the most surprising findings because the CCGs and healthcare professionals often want to support their local service....It is a concern with such a large percentage....we have to explore why that is, what is it about the quality, is it the access, the waiting time, the staff...and explore why we got that type of percentage in the survey of a lack of local support.”

Among the other findings in the survey was the revelation that not only had 65% of staff suffered verbal or physical abuse at the hands of patients but shockingly 38% of respondents said they had been verbally or physically attacked by a colleague.

Commenting, Dr Kingsland, said this was a challenge for the CCGS to both understand why this was happening but also to explore why it was not being reported or acted upon.

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