Leading article: Doctoring the National Health Service

Share
Related Topics

Most people now agree that the Government's decision to ring-fence the National Health Service while forcing almost all other departments to accept 25 per cent cuts was a bad idea.

But £20bn in savings will nonetheless be sought within the NHS budget by 2014. And the abolition of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) is the big efficiency reform being pushed. The word is that the responsibilities and powers of the 152 PCTs will be devolved to around 500 local consortia of GPs, which will commission health services for patients across the NHS. A White Paper has been promised for next week by the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.

The theory behind the reform is that GPs are best placed to understand patients' needs and to decide where money should be spent. Mr Lansley wants demand for services across the NHS to be shaped by small, smart groups, rather than large, dumb PCTs. He hopes this will result in less money being wasted and an NHS more responsive to patients' needs. There might, however, be a rather baser motive in all this. GPs were given a ridiculously generous pay contract by the last government in 2004. Perhaps Mr Lansley thinks it is now time for doctors to earn their rewards.

But putting 80 per cent of the NHS budget in the hands of GPs is a gamble. What if GPs do not want to be managers? Many were only too pleased to get rid of the responsibility for providing out-of-hours services in 2003. Now that will return along with many other new duties. Do GPs have the necessary skills to handle it? The White Paper needs to lay out what happens if these consortia overspend.

The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Nigel Edwards, has said he expects GPs to recruit former staff from PCTs to enable them to cope with the additional workload. But unless GPs take the lead, this reform could simply reinvent PCTs under another name and on a smaller scale. Paradoxically, Mr Lansley's reform could end up being a big failure, or a big fuss about nothing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat