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Royal Colleges continue health bill reform discussions

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The government appears to have escaped a major rebellion from influential Royal Colleges over its plans for overhauling the NHS.

The 20 Colleges that make up the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) have been divided over the strength of the stance they should take against the Health and Social Care Bill, currently going through Parliament.

A draft AoMRC statement following a meeting on Tuesday said the Colleges had “significant concerns” and could not support the Bill in its current form.

It said “unless the proposals are modified, the Academy believes the Bill may widen rather than lessen health inequalities and that unnecessary competition will undermine the provision of high- quality integrated care to patients”.

But this statement was never officially released to the media, with the AoMRC saying later there had been subsequent “extensive discussions” with ministers.

It is known that the Royal College of Surgeons and possibly others would not agree to calls for the Bill to be withdrawn.

If the statement had been released, it could have massively increased the pressure on the Government over the plans, which critics say lack clinical support.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the AoMRC held a joint meeting to discuss the way forward.

The BMA, the RCN and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have already moved to a position of outright opposition to the Bill and called for it to be withdrawn.

The Royal College of GPs has also said the Bill should be withdrawn, with a poll of its members last month finding more than 90% supported the College in proceeding with calls for the Bill to be scrapped.

But following last night’s meeting, a joint statement would only say dialogue was continuing.

It said: “A number of Medical Royal Colleges, the BMA, the RCN and organisations representing other clinical professionals met today to discuss their approaches to the Health and Social Care Bill.

“There was a useful exchange of information and an agreement to continue the dialogue.”

No further statement is planned at this stage.

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