Ministers want to give GPs control over the majority of the health budget, as well as open up the service to greater competition from organisations such as the private sector. However, doctors, health managers and MPs have been expressing their displeasure over the several months.
Yesterday, the government acknowledged that their plans need to be a lot more convincing before anybody can be persuaded to agree with them. It plans to create a ‘listening exercise’, expected to be fronted by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, in which people will be able to voice their concerns further.
Although some pilot schemes have already launched across the country, the plan to implement it on a national scale by 2013 has been met with criticism, as people worry that the government is rushing ahead with something they’re not 100% sure will succeed. Some have even called for the scheme to be delayed.
Expecting doctors and health workers to become financial experts is, obviously, not something that is going to be seamless. In which situation the national board, most like headed by NHS Chief Executive, David Nicholson, will support the GPs.
The BMA and some Labour MPs have also expressed concern that this scheme will allow private health firms to have a stronger influence in the NHS. About 3.5% of elective operations such as knees and hips are carried out by private health institutions, and people worry that this percentage will only increase and ultimately cost the tax-payer more.
Some also worry that the amount of power GPs will be given can only descend into arguments as local organisations contradict each other as to what is the best course of action. The House of Commons' health committee has suggested that the government involved other experts, such as hospital doctors, public health chiefs, social care staff and councillors.
Accountability is also an issue, as the NHS is notoriously rather economical with the truth sometimes, and so the idea that the organisation will have to hold public meetings has been met with some scepticism. Ministers have argued both sides of this, but both acknowledge that the NHS will have to produce accessible records of their accounts and will have to answer freedom of information requests.
This is an on-going story that will probably continue for a while.