PM promises 'substantive changes' to NHS reforms

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Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to make ‘substantive changes' to the NHS reforms currently before Parliament.

In a speech at Ealing Hospital in West London the Prime Minister explained that he did not want to pre-empt the changes but did hint that commissioning would not be solely down to GPs.

The progress of the coalition government's controversial Health and Social Care Bill is currently being paused for a listening exercise to gauge concerns voiced by many medical practitioners and experts.

One of the key criticisms of the Bill is the implementation of GP-only consortia to commission healthcare services around the country.

But the Prime Minister appeared to suggest that other medical staff would be involved in this practice, although some have called for a wider range of people including councilors and patients to also be included.

"We are listening and we will make substantive changes to improve the reforms, based on what we hear," he said.

"It is clear for example, that when people working in our hospitals hear the term ‘GP commissioning', they worry it's only GPs that are going to be involved in making decisions.

"Now that's not the case, but I agree we need hospital doctors and nurses to be much more closely engaged in commissioning."

However, he maintained the reforms would be an "evolution, not revolution" and vowed that it would not result in NHS privatisation or allow private providers to cherry-pick certain services.

The NHS Future Forum, which is conducting the listening exercise, is due to report its recommendations at the beginning of next month and the government is expected to issue its response later in June.

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