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Patient care and choice is at risk, say senior NHS figures

One in three say accountability for patients has failed to improve

The National Health Service is undergoing its biggest shake-up in decades, but its own directors and board members, as well as those across the health sector, are concerned that patient care is deteriorating, that the NHS is worse equipped to deliver value-for-money, and that patient choice and satisfaction is going to get worse.

When more than 150 senior figures, including commissioners, regulators and health care providers in the NHS and across the health sector, were quizzed about the reorganisation of the health service more than ninety per cent said their organisation had changed to some extent.

But, in what will come as a blow to the coalition, more than a third said accountability for patients had not improved. Around forty per cent said the NHS is less equipped to drive efficiencies, while one in five said patient care had actually deteriorated in the last year. Around half thought patient choice and satisfaction will get worse over the next two to three years.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham described the research as "a damning verdict on David Cameron's disastrous NHS reorganisation."

He told The Independent: "It is clear that senior people in the NHS, who have seen this reorganisation at close quarters, believe it has left the NHS weakened and in a worse position to deal with a dangerous winter.

"It was a monumental mistake to siphon £3 billion out of the NHS frontline and throw the whole system into chaos with a reorganisation nobody wanted and nobody voted for. David Cameron promised he'd protect the NHS, but this report confirms that under him the NHS going backwards."

The majority of respondents thought it would take more than a year to get the system operating effectively, but only four out of ten were optimistic about the ability of the NHS to deliver 'high-quality and cost-effective care' over the next five to ten years.

More than forty per cent felt less motivated than they did a year ago, while less than half felt employees in the NHS were coping well with the change.

"Overall reorganisation is having a detrimental impact on the commissioning, regulation and provision of healthcare", said Richard Jones, executive director at consultancy Moorhouse, who carried out the research.

A health department spokesperson said: "We disagree. We have made the health system far more transparent and accountable than it was before. Doctors and nurses - the people who know their patients best - now have the power and freedom to make the decisions and changes that patients really need."