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PM reveals government's four NHS commitments

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The prime minister has revealed “four Fs” which he believes sum up the government’s approach to the NHS. They came while he attempted to bat off criticism of the Health Bill at a Downing Street summit yesterday.

David Cameron also told attendees he recognised the “need to get the narrative right” to win support for its NHS reforms and said the meeting had demonstrated there was a “need to have a focus on integrated care [and a] need to confront the fears and uncertainty [about the reforms]”.

The prime minister said “four Fs” could sum up the government’s approach to the NHS. The first was its “commitment to the founding principles of the NHS”; the second its “commitment to funding” real terms increases every year; the third its “commitment to making it fit for the future”, a reference to the reforms; and the fourth was a commitment to “freedom for local decision making”.

The meeting – revealed by Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ on Friday – was attended by a number national health representative organisations. Also attending were health secretary Andrew Lansley, former Labour health minister Lord Ara Darzi, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, and Department of Health permanent secretary Una O’Brien.

The event has attracted criticism because the groups most critical of the bill - including the royal colleges of GPs, nursing and midwifery - were not invited.

Mr Lansley was confronted by protestors in Whitehall as he entered the meeting, and attendees were encouraged to leave by a different entrance.

It is understood David Cameron told the meeting he believed the bill would pass through Parliament in the next two months, and he wanted to discuss implementing it. The meeting was titled “implementation of the reforms”.

However, a series of groups, particularly medical royal colleges and patient organisations, said they wanted to reiterate their concerns about the bill. In particular, sources said, representatives of royal colleges said concern among their members had “hardened in recent weeks and months”.

“There was a lot of rehearsal of the series of reasons why people are uneasy about the bill,” said one source. Attendees told Mr Cameron of continuing “concern, lack of clarity, uncertainty and fear”, according to another attendee.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar urged the prime minister to engage NHS staff more widely in implementing the reforms. Following the meeting, he said in a statement: “Whatever parliament now decides, getting the whole NHS and clinical community behind any changes will be vital to their success.

“Clearly, there are rifts that will need to be healed if this is to happen. People outside the meeting at No 10, as well as those inside the room, need to be engaged.”

Lord Darzi is understood to have emphasised the need for NHS reform - particularly in commissioning - but said he was strongly against the “demonisation of management”.

One of the attendees, National Voices chief executive Jeremy Taylor, said he raised concerns about the bill, and called for the government to set out a “plan for integrated care”; for it to address the funding and organisation of social care; and for it to put clearer patient rights in the NHS Constitution.

Foundation Trust Network chief executive Sue Slipman, who attended, said Mr Cameron appeared to have recognised the need to listen to organisations during the “transition phase” of the reforms, and groups had emphasised risk to NHS performance and finance is high.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • michael stone

    'and the fourth was a commitment to “freedom for local decision making”.'

    I have not even read to the end of this piece, as I don't have the time and currently 'can't be asked'.

    But these new proposals are FOUNDED on the idea that 'decision-making' should be largely moved down to the GP&patient level - so it is TOTALLY PERVERSE to exclude the RCGP !

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  • tinkerbell

    and the fifth F word, no not even going there.

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  • tinkerbell


    Dear Gordon,

    thank you for taking the time to get back to me and your letter and
    enclosure from Anne Milton.

    I think the most concerning thing about these reforms is the 49% cap on
    private patients using NHS facilities. Does this mean that 49% of NHS
    patients will be waiting longer?

    Yours sincerely

    This is my reply in response to a letter i received from my MP Gordon Henderson. He says basically he is confident, with a few minor reservations, that on the whole this Heallth Bill will deliver a better more responsive NHS. He sent me a letter from Anne Milton and she suggests i get involved with the Nursing and Care Quality Forum which is being created and the NHS is close to her heart as she worked in the NHS for 25 years.

    Also that NT, ministers and department officials have a productive realtionship with the Nursing Times Editorial team and that there is a high level of engagement between the journal and the department.

    All mighty fine, glad everydone's getting along just dandy but never really addressed my concerns. Please could you just get to the point and answer my question, i don't need to be blinded by over use of words.

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    .

    tinkerbell | 27-Feb-2012 11:16 am

    Also for all of us who signed the e-petition to 'drop the bill' There are 6 levels to whether it will get an airing. They sent me a flow chart. Level One: The Leader of the House writes to the Backbench Business Committee to notify the COmmittee that an e-petition has 100,000 signatures. This does not guarantee a debate in the Commons, but triggers consideration by the Committee.

    Won't bother mentioning the other 5 because as you see it is dead in the water.

    Thanks for wasting everyones time. Thank you

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