NHS changes come into force

From 1 April 2013 radical changes to the NHS are being implemented.  Along with GP led groups being given control of local budgets and the creation of NHS England which now oversees the day-to-day running of services, the NHS Commissioning Board has taken over responsibility for Performers Lists involving doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists.

One major notable change is reflected in the National Health Service (Performers Lists) (England) Regulations 2013, which states that removal from a Performers List includes any suspension by the GMC, even if it is one imposed following a GMC Interim Order Panel (IOP) hearing.  One might have expected the removal to apply to a final GMC suspension decision following a Fitness to Practise hearing (as was the previous position).  However, it has been extended to any decision by the GMC, interim or final.

We at Ridouts suspect this extension will be challenged in the courts given that a doctor removed from a Performers List (now a national list rather than local) will not be able to work as a GP.  That will have devastating financial consequences.

Although some have questioned whether the introduction of such major changes at a time when money is so tight is sensible, the government are maintaining that the changes will put the NHS on a firm footing for the 21st century.  Health Minister, Anna Soubry said “The health service will improve, work smarter and, importantly, build an NHS that delivers high quality, compassionate care for patients.”

However Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, has said that these changes will have the opposite effect “far from letting ‘doctors decide’, ministers are forcing the medical profession to open up all NHS services to the market.  Hundreds of new private companies now risk fragmenting patient care when more integration is needed.”

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