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RCS welcomes health reform improvements, but urges no delays

14 June 2011

The government response to the NHS Future Forum report published today (Tuesday 14 June, 2011) provides clarity on many of the points raised by the Royal College of Surgeons throughout the consultation for the Health & Social Care Bill. But the College urges the government to be wary of adopting recommendations that may slow down the plans.

Moves to provide patients with more information are to be welcomed and surgery is leading the way in providing outcomes measurement of procedures. The commitment to the NHS having a duty to promote research is also a vital part of ensuring future improvements in healthcare.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons, John Black, said:

“The government should take great credit for taking time to listen to concerns from healthcare professionals and patients over the detail of the health reforms. Amendments announced today to formally include hospital doctors in commissioning will help ensure all patients are fully accounted for and prevent unintended destabilisation of hospital services. Commitments to prohibit cherry picking of cases and to maintain medical training are welcome – the RCS has provided detailed advice on these points that we hope will be taken up in the coming months.

But the best thing for the future of the NHS is to get on with making these plans a reality without delay. Our experience of past attempts to reform the health service is that open ended commitments are never fulfilled as there are too many confounding vested interests in the system. Removing the 2013 deadline would prove a mistake. Our concern is that this opens the door to a mixed economy of commissioning by new consortia in addition to alternative commissioners creating wasteful duplication of how NHS money is spent. This could lead to funds being spent on administration that could have gone on patient care at a time when public finances are at their most vulnerable.”