In response to the National Audit Office report on managing the transition to the reformed health system, released today, Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, said:
“This report looks at the success of the health system reforms through rose-tinted glasses. The difference between the cost of the reforms and the savings achieved is £300 million – the cost of one day’s NHS expenditure. This does not justify the immense upheaval and challenges that NHS staff and patients have had to experience and are still experiencing.
“We are also dismayed to read that a fifth of the NHS staff made redundant as a result of the reforms were subsequently re-employed, presumably at great cost and diverting essential funds from elsewhere in the NHS where they are needed most in order to ensure patient care. This is a flagrant waste of money at a time when the NHS – in particular general practice – is buckling under the pressure of ever-increasing workload and ever-decreasing resources.
“As expected, frontline NHS staff rallied to make the implementation as successful as they could and tried to maintain the best possible care for patients under the difficult circumstances and limited resources available to them. But far from creating a more streamlined and patient-friendly NHS, what we are seeing is more confusion than ever with patients not knowing where to turn. This confusion was compounded with the decision to roll out the new NHS 111 service on the same weekend as the biggest top-down reorganisation in the history of the NHS.
“Across the country GPs are doing their best to minimise the prevailing chaos for patients, but the extra responsibilities that the healthcare reforms have brought to GPs are forcing them to choose between the consulting room and the board room. If the extra funding ploughed into the reforms had been invested into general practice we could have done so much to improve patient care.
“These reforms have only served as a diversion away from providing the best possible care for patients. In years to come we will look upon this as a missed opportunity to concentrate on the real task of bringing patient care closer to home in their communities, where they want and need it most.”
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Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 44,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.