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BMA and RCGP not invited to NHS reforms talks

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 20 February 2012

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Several of the leading representative bodies for doctors and nurses have not been invited to talks on the NHS reforms taking place today with Prime Minister David Cameron.

The BMA, RCGP, Royal College of Nursing, Unison, and the Faculty of Public Health are amongst the organisations not invited to roundtable discussions with Mr Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street where he is playing host.

Those attending include some Royal College leaders, clinical commissioning group chairs and other stakeholders.

The government said the event was intended to meet people and groups who were already “constructively engaged” in the reforms and making beneficial changes, but most of the bodies that have been highly critical of the reforms are not invited to today’s event.

The Department of Health said that patients were already benefitting from GPs starting to take a lead in designing local health services through their involvement in clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Nationwide examples were given that showed that during the first year of emerging CCGs redesigning services, patients were starting to experience improvements in quality of care.

Examples included:

  • a CCG in Newcastle where the number of patients admitted to hospital with emergency respiratory problems has decreased by 70%
  • in Bedfordshire a team has been set up to deal with emergency calls from care homes, helping reduce hospital visits by 40%
  • a group in Wigan that has redesigned stroke services and cut the average hospital stay for patients from 56 days to 12 days.

The Department said that after a decade of rising emergency hospital admissions, 2011 saw the first year on year decline and this had happened at the same time as a growing number of GPs had started to play a more central role in choosing the most appropriate care for their patients.

The figures showed a 0.5% decline in emergency hospital admissions, compared to 4.6% and 3.3% increases in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Between 2001 and 2010 there was a 36% increase in emergency admissions.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has written to all CCGs outlining the role they will play in the future health service.

Mr Lansley said: “We have always been clear that patients will benefit from putting power in the hands of frontline doctors and nurses. By starting to do just that, we are seeing a positive change in the way our NHS is responding to rising pressures. Patients are being treated in more convenient places, pressure on hospitals is reducing, and we are safeguarding the NHS for future generations.”

A BMA spokesperson said: “The BMA does not appear to have been invited to an NHS summit at Downing Street. We think this is a disappointing decision. It would seem odd if the major bodies representing health professionals were not included.”

A spokesperson for the RCGP said they college was not a political body and it was disappointed that it had not been invited to the meeting at Downing Street.

“The RCGP, with its 44,000 members, is the largest professional body of GPs in the UK,” said the spokesperson. “It is our members who will have to implement the changes if the Bill goes through so it is very important that we are part of any discussions on the way forward.

“We have heard that the meeting could be one in a series of similar meetings to which we would hope to be invited to have the opportunity for constructive dialogue.

“Whatever the outcome of the wider Health Bill, the College will continue to work with government to improve the care that we provide to patients.”

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