Hackney’s clinical commissioning group has joined that of Tower Hamlets in turning against against the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill.
In the letter sent this morning the Board of City & Hackney Clinical CCG called on asked David Cameron to withdraw the bill, saying it will “hamper future improvements” and cause “huge disruption” to their work.
It said: “We object to you using our willingness to be elected onto our CCGs by our peers to improve patient care as evidence that we support your bill.
“We are afraid the NHS will be damaged beyond recognition in a few years if the Bill is passed.”
The move follows a similar letter from Tower Hamlets doctors yesterday, backed in Parliament by Bethnal Green MP Rushanara Ali, who called the bill a “nightmare”.
The CCGs are two of six chosen to pilot the reforms in advance of their 2013 deadline, when they will assume health planning powers for their boroughs.
But they now join the British Medical Association, the General Practicioners’ Council, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing in demanding the bill be scrapped.
In their letter CCG chairs Dr Clare Highton and Dr Haren Patel said the bill was distracting managers from “working on clinical pathways” because they were forced to focus their attentions on forming totally new organizations.
They said Hackney GPs have been involved in commissioning for the last five years without a new NHS bill, and cite improvements for their patients.
Dr Louise Irvine, who chairs the BMA’s Lewisham chapter, told EastLondonLines the pilot had been imposed on east London doctors who were “angry at being co-opted as supporters”.
Under the reforms, doctors will form groups to commission or buy services from English hospitals and care trusts – but commissioning for GPs themselves will pass to regional health boards.
Surgeries will also be allowed to relax boundaries and take their patients from anywhere, raising fears of ‘cherry-picking’ for rich inner city practices.
The Department of Health said on Tuesday that organizations like the NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care, representing over 11,000 GPs, supported the bill.
A spokesman said: “Only with the bill can we make clinical commissioning a reality for patients across the country….without the bill, doctors and nurses will always run the risk of having their decisions second0guessed by managers running primary care trusts.”
Meanwhile, a senior GP commissioning lead has said that a rival letter calling on CCG leaders to back the health bill is being circulated within the NHS Clinical Leaders Network.
Dr David Jenner, lead for Eastern Devon CCG, told GPs’ magazine Pulse: “Someone is touting for signatures on the national clinical leaders network for people to write a letter in support of keeping the bill in some form.”