The 2013 deadline for the start of the new-look NHS is likely to be scrapped, when the report from Future Forum, which has coordinated the NHS listening exercise, publishes its recommendations later today.
The Future Forum, headed up by the former chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Steve Field, began its “listening exercise” in April, amid widespread criticism of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposals for a shake-up of the NHS.
But those hoping that the Health and Social Care Bill will be killed off are likely to be disappointed. It is thought that much of the content will echo the sentiments of prime minister David Cameron’s speech on the future of the NHS, which he delivered last week.
In it, the PM pledged to protect the core values of the NHS, but reiterated the need for change to contain spiralling costs and boost quality of care. His speech followed a similar outpouring from the health secretary in the Daily Telegraph the previous week.
The PM emphasised that the original 2013 deadline would be scrapped and that consortia would only be up and running when GPs were “good and ready.”
Hospital doctors and nurses would also have a voice in the new consortia, while Monitor would have an additional role of integrating services.
Among other headline changes, the PM said that the 18 week target from GP consultation to treatment would be maintained.
But he emphasised that competition would be an integral part of the new look service, as part of “properly managed choice.”
Unite, the largest union in the country, has issued a new briefing saying the PM’s pledges on the health service added up to “a personal guarantee of chaos,” and would make matters worse rather than better.
Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell said: “This is, indeed, a crunch week for the NHS. Health professionals have made it very clear that these proposals won’t work.”
‘Now is the time for the MPs to listen very carefully to what the professionals and their constituents are saying. It is time to scrap the bill and conduct a proper review of what is needed for the long- term needs of the NHS and our nation’s health, rather than rush through a biased, lop-sided listening exercise. It is time for a commission of genuinely independent experts to be set up,” he added.
The government is expected to publish its response to the report tomorrow.
The Unite briefing can be viewed here.