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18 April 2011

Doctors told to keep up “momentum” on NHS reform

Department of Health writes to GPs telling them to press on with reforms, despite the government’s l

By Samira Shackle

Despite the coalition’s much-vaunted “listening exercise” on the NHS, doctors have been told to power ahead with reforms.

The London Evening Standard has obtained a letter to GPs from Dame Barbara Hakin, the Department of Health’s national managing director of commissioning development, urging them to keep up the “momentum” around reform.

Everyone within the Department of Health is very aware of the support shown by the GP community to date and we have been struck by the energy and enthusiasm demonstrated in pathfinders across the country. Therefore, although the government has taken the opportunity of a natural break in the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, we are very keen that the momentum we have built to date should not stop.

The letter was sent the day after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) overwhelmingly backed a vote of no confidence in the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.

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The listening exercise was an unusual step, taken because of profound discomfort from medical professionals and the public. As I reported last week, just 3 per cent of the public want the bill to proceed unchanged, and there have been outspoken protests from the RCN, the British Medical Association and a range of Liberal Democrats.

This letter certainly appears to undermine the promise by Nick Clegg and David Cameron that the aim of the listening exercise is “substantive change” to the bill.

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