Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“The Royal College of Surgeons yesterday (Monday 20 February) outlined its concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill during a meeting with the Prime Minister. We reiterated that the priority must be improving outcomes for patients by modernising the healthcare system, cutting bureaucracy and giving patients and their clinicians the right to decide the best treatment for individuals.
I informed the Prime Minister of our concern that NHS patients are currently not getting the operations they need due to restrictions on access to surgery. This is being driven by the need for the health service to achieve efficiency savings of £20bn by 2015. I made it clear at yesterday’s meeting that the implementation of the Bill must not distract from the challenge of providing services to patients in these times of financial pressure. The NHS must not deny patients access to treatment as a means of saving money in the short term, when what is needed are long term approaches like reconfiguration.
I also restated the College’s view that for commissioning to work, it is vital that professionals across the medical specialties are able to work together to ensure the best services for patients. Furthermore, I reiterated the need for the commissioning process to be transparent and based on the best available evidence.
The College is not a political organisation but we believe that it is in the best interest of patients to critically engage in debate on the Bill as there are still significant areas of concern within the profession. We felt we could best represent the views of our members by attending the meeting and briefing the Prime Minister directly about these issues.”