City health boss opposes bill that will reform NHS

SPEAKING OUT Paul Edmondson-Jones
SPEAKING OUT Paul Edmondson-Jones

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THE head of public health in Portsmouth has signed a letter from health professionals speaking out against government reforms of the NHS which he says could cause ‘irreparable harm’.

Director of public health Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones joined more than 400 other doctors and public directors nationally, in a stance against the Health and Social Care Bill, through an open letter to the House of Lords.

Dr Edmondson-Jones said that the Bill could lead to the NHS being less able to deal with outbreaks of disease.

Many health professionals and members of the public believe the bill could lead to privatisation of the NHS.

Dr Edmondson-Jones said: ‘We believe that this Bill is quite seriously flawed.

‘I signed this letter because in my view, the Bill may usher in a degree of marketisation and commercialisation that could fragment patient care, widen health inequalities, result in wasted money in its attempts to regulate and manage competition and undermine the ability of the health system to respond effectively to outbreaks of communicable disease and other public health emergencies.

‘The government’s NHS Listening Exercise resulted in hundreds of amendments to its original proposals, but we don’t feel they went far enough to lead to substantial changes and meeting all our areas of concern.

‘We feel very strongly as a group of public health professionals that it is important to speak out at this time as the Bill enters the House of Lords as we believe that it may be the last chance to significantly alter the recommendations.

‘This comes from a deeply felt personal and professional opinion.

‘There is also a long, proud history of people in public health speaking out.’

The Bill was approved by MPs in the House of Commons last month, and had more than 180 changes made, before it was passed to the Lords.

A Department for Health spokesman said: ‘Our plans to modernise the NHS will give patients more choice, root out waste and give trusted NHS staff more power to improve care. A group of the country’s top doctors and NHS experts has already analysed the Health Bill and we have accepted all their recommendations to improve it.

‘Many GPs and other doctors have also already spoken out in support.’