“The ‘reforms’ have the support of doctors”

Many clinicians (that is, doctors and other health care practitioners such as nurses, physiotherapists and midwives) have expressed deep concern about the effects of the HSC Act. Most Royal Colleges representing clinical staff – including the body representing GPs, the doctors expected to make the restructured NHS work – tried to stop the HSC Act becoming law once they realised what the legislation would mean.

Of those who supported the ‘reforms’, some (mostly doctors) clearly benefit from the changes. For example, when Harmoni – an ‘out of hours’ service  – was sold to Care UK,  GPs involved in the company (at least one of whom was a great champion of the reforms) shared more than £25 million of profits.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9668756/GPs-cash-in-on-sale-of-out-of-hours-provider.html).

Some GPs who are involved in this kind of private enterprise have been concerned about the conflict of interest that they face.  For example, under its former name Assura, Virgin had set up 24 local “provider companies” offering patients community services such as dermatology, physiotherapy and rheumatology. All of these services were run as partnerships with local GPs. In the end, more than 300 GPs  ended their partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin Care when it became clear that this might lead to doctors profiting personally from sending patients to clinics that they part-owned (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/24/doctors-virgin-partnership-conflict-of-interest?CMP=twt_gu ).

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