With less than a month to go before the implementation of the controversial legal reforms to the structure of the NHS, a leading organisation has written to the Government to warn it that the reforms may jeopardise patient safety, reports the BBC.
Professor Terence Stephenson is the chair of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, a body that represents almost every doctor in the UK by pooling the influence of all the various Royal Colleges into a single body.
Prof Stephenson has written to the Health Minister Lord Howe to warn him that the NHS reforms coming into force in April this year may well jeopardise patient health.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 will bring in the most extensive reorganisation of the NHS since its inception in 1946. The Act abolishes Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) and will transfer most of the NHS budget to new clinical commissioning authorities run partly by GPs.
One of the key effects of the changes will be to permit a greater involvement of private companies in the provision of NHS services in future. The changes are also designed to drive additional competition between suppliers in an attempt to improve service and drive down costs.
Professor Stephenson is concerned that the drive to push NHS services out to tender between existing suppliers and newer private companies will result in a disruption in care, particularly for those patients receiving complex healthcare treatments.
"Children and adults with complex serious diseases need a joined-up service. We're very keen that that shouldn't be just like buying a mobile phone," he said in an interview.
Controversy surrounding the proposals has been peaked by regulations passed a fortnight ago that it is feared could force GP commissioning groups to put almost all healthcare services out to tender. The regulations concern the requirements for tender and competition contained in section 75 of the Act.
The regulations are due to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday this week.