Health plans survive vote

Dr Phil Earnshaw, chariman of the Wakefield Allliance Consortium.
Dr Phil Earnshaw, chariman of the Wakefield Allliance Consortium.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce more private sector competition into the NHS and hand power to GPs survived a parliamentary challenge this week.

Labour MPs tried to have sweeping changes to the NHS abandoned in a motion that was defeated by a reduced majority for the coalition government.

Under the plan, GPs would take charge of budgets. Alternative providers, including private companies, would be able to bid to run NHS services.

Unions and opposition MPs say services would be harmed by companies putting profits before patients.

They also claim GPs lack the experience to make decisions over service provision.

Dr Phillip Earnshaw is chairman of Wakefield Alliance Commissioning Consortium, which would lead the changes, taking on existing NHS staff, if the bill goes ahead.

He said: “One thing I don’t agree with is people saying GPs don’t have the expertise. We have got some very experienced people who have been involved with commissioning for a long time.

“The NHS is very dear to people, and some of the criticism is that the NHS is going to be privatised. I actually don’t think this is going to be the case.”

Dr Earnshaw, who is a partner at Ferrybridge Medical Centre, also dismissed fears that GPs would award themselves bonuses by not spending their full budget allocation.

He said: “Bonuses will be utterly impossible because the money will not be for the personal use of the GPs. It is still banked by the NHS.”

Last month the government paused the legislation and started a consultation in response to rising opposition to the plan.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “The listening exercise is nothing more than a PR stunt. They have broken their promises on no top-down reorganisation of the NHS.

“These changes are taking a mallet to the system that has served this country well since 1948. It is going to seriously affect the quality of care and services.”