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Government publishes NHS Health and Social Care Bill

FPH is concerned about what the NHS Health and Social Care Bill means, not only for the public and patients, but also the future of the NHS.

Professor Lindsey Davies, FPH President, said:  “It is very important in terms of population health that what is proposed ensures good access to quality services. We don’t want to see the changes disrupting heathcare and preventing public health professionals from getting on with the job in hand.

“GPs will have a huge task ahead of them, deciding which services to commission for their communities – they will need the help of their colleagues in other healthcare specialties, and particularly that of public health specialists who know who needs what and how to get it in the fairest, safest and most cost-effective way.

“We are also concerned that opening up the NHS to ‘any willing provider’ could lead to some services only being available if they are profitable, regardless of what people really need, increasing the postcode lottery of service provision and exacerbating health inequalities.

“Public health is about saving money for the NHS in the long run, about the long-term vision for improving the nation’s health by ensuring everyone has access to great care when they need it, protecting people against harm from epidemics and disasters, and tackling issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol harm.

“We want to see health services and the commissioning of such services being well informed by public health experts, and we want assurances that public health won't be cut out of the NHS. This is vital for the future health of the nation.”

FPH is also concerned that the new health system eliminates two tiers of health service management, but creates three parallel lines of health management through GP commissioning, the NHS commissioning board and Public Health England – the scope for fragmentation of health policy and planning is considerable.

If the system succeeds there will be more public money committed to transaction costs in the health services. With the signing of contracts between GP, NHS and public health commissioners and providers, and settling invoices, management costs are likely to increase. As services transfer from one provider to another, more tax payers’ money will be spent on legal and financial advice and not on direct patient care or preventive public health services.

FPH is reviewing with other public health bodies the implications of the Secretary of State and local authority powers with regard to public health. We will be commenting further on these in due course.

FPH has produced an initial summary of the bill.

Written: 02/02/2011 , last modified: 09/11/2011