2012 03 Health Care

Sunday 1 April 2012

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Health and Social Care Act 2012. On Tuesday 27th March 2012, the Queen granted Royal Assent to the controversial NHS reforms after 14 months in Parliament. The announcement that the assent had been given was greeted by cries of “shame” from opposition Labour MPs. The Health and Social Care Bill was tabled in Parliament in January 2011, and has been subjected to more than 1,000 amendments through the House of Lords after struggling to win the support of the public and medical professionals.

In April 2013, the 151 Primary Healthcare Trusts (PCTs) will be abolished and replaced with more than 250 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England. CCGs will be partly run by GPs, who will receive funds from the National Board and design health services for their local area.

But the Royal College of General Practitioners said it was "concerned that some of the types of choice outlined in the government’s proposals run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes, particularly in cases of children with disabilities, those with multiple comorbidities and the frail and elderly."

A poll conducted by Doctors.net.uk reveals that 83 per cent of GPs believe that handing NHS funding decisions to local CCGs will lead to a greater NHS postcode lottery.

On the 29 March 2012, a draft risk register has been leaked that showed ministers were warned 18 months ago of the risk that the reforms could bring. The document was produced on 28 September 2010, and identified 4 separate areas of potential risk, including loss of financial control, reduced productivity and emergencies being less well managed (click here for Guardian Article). Whilst the Bill has changed fundamentally since that date, Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said today's document showed that ministers were warned before they launched the Bill that it was "likely to cause major damage to the NHS". (click here for Act).

R (on the application of UNISON) v NHS Wiltshire PCT & 9 ORS & (1) NHS Shared Business Services Ltd (2) Secretary of State for Health [2012] EWHC 624 (Admin) (Eady J): The Court held that public law remedies could exist in addition to the statutory private law remedies available to economic operators under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. However, a trade union which was not an economic operator had not demonstrated that it had a sufficient interest in compliance with the public procurement regime, in the sense that its members were affected in some identifiable way, to bring a judicial review claim. Thus the preliminary issues determined in favour of defendant (click here for transcript).

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