Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reforms to NHS Will Hurt Region; Doctors Hit out at Bill

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reforms to NHS Will Hurt Region; Doctors Hit out at Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

LEADING doctors have claimed that the controversial plans to overhaul the NHS in England will increase health inequalities in the North East.

A bid to block the Government's proposed health reforms was launched in the House of Lords yesterday as peers began a two-day debate on the Health and Social Care Bill.

In an open letter sent to Newcastle peer Lord Jeremy Beecham - a member of Labour's shadow health team - the North East British Medical Association (BMA) outlined its "grave concerns" with the Bill and said it posed an "unacceptably high risk" to the NHS.

The letter says: "The Bill as it stands will do irreparable harm to the NHS and the already heightened degree of commercialisation and marketisation will undoubtedly fragment patient care, potentially erode medical ethics and trust within the health system."

The Health and Social Care Bill has been described as the biggest shake-up of the NHS since it was founded in 1948. The proposed changes will increase competition and give clinicians control of budgets.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has already been forced to amend the proposals after putting them on hold in the face of widespread opposition from health professionals earlier this year.

Now many peers are seeking further changes that would effectively axe the Bill or could severely disrupt its passage into law.

Last night, health unions said they continued to call for the Bill to be withdrawn or, at the very least, to be subjected to further significant amendments. …

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