Briefing to MPs concerned for the future of the NHS
As the Secretary of State for Health appears before parliament today, members may be interested to note that he has taken no action to ensure that the ban on the use of expensive telephone numbers by NHS bodies and GPs is effectively introduced and enforced.
Will the new "patient centred" NHS allow patients to pay extra for access to NHS services if they do not vote with their feet by choosing alternative GPs and hospitals?
|•||A number of NHS bodies continue to use expensive 084 numbers after the supposed ban came into effect on 21 December 2010.|
|•||Very many NHS GPs intend to continue using their expensive 084 numbers after the deadline passes on 31 March 2011.|
|This is commonly on the advice of the BMA, which suggests that they rely on false guidance from an interested commercial party to avoid their direct duty to respect the terms of their NHS contract.|
These NHS service providers, and those who regulate their activities, are all in breach of their duty under the terms of the Health Act 2010 to have regard to the terms of the NHS Constitution.
If a patient's "right" to choose how much they pay for access to NHS treatment is more important than strict adherence to the principles of the NHS, then we have publicly-subsidised healthcare, rather than a National Health Service.
This relatively modest matter of telephone numbers presents the Secretary of State with an ideal opportunity to demonstrate where he stands on this issue. He, and the government as a whole, may be judged by the way in which he acts to deal with this current situation.
Many PCTs are already losing the capability to enforce the terms of GP NHS contracts. A clear statement from the Department of Health is needed if the principle of "free at the point of delivery" is to be retained.