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RCOG statement on the NHS Future Forum report

News 14 June 2011

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the publication of the NHS Future Forum’s report on NHS reform and the 16 core recommendations.

The RCOG is pleased to see the following recommendations:

  • A reiteration of the patient and citizen’s rights, as set out by the NHS Constitution
  • Multi-disciplinary and multi-professional collaboration in the design and commissioning of NHS services through ‘clinical senates’
  • Clinical input in the commissioning consortia
  • Tighter restrictions on private sector involvement to prevent ‘cherry picking’ and postcode lotteries in service provision
  • The role of Monitor to promote integration of patient care instead of competition
  • The duty to reduce health inequalities through shared responsibility between the Secretary of State, the NHS Commissioning Board and the commissioning consortia
  • The preservation of the role of postgraduate deaneries in the education and training of the healthcare workforce
  • All employers to prioritise and provide access to CPD for NHS staff

The RCOG believes that change is needed on the NHS and the previous proposals to reduce bureaucracy will help make the NHS more efficient. However, as highlighted by the Future Forum, there is much anxiety over the perceived privatisation of the NHS through the reform proposals. Safeguards are therefore needed. Better co-operation between NHS trusts, private providers and charities is to be encouraged but these relationships must be transparent and accountable. Those providing these services must be subject to the same tight controls as NHS providers so that high quality care is provided to patients.

The RCOG believes that the promise to provide integrated health and social care can work if done using the model of managed clinical networks. In the case of women’s health for instance, this will incorporate public health, mental health and social services, alongside primary and secondary / tertiary care so that women’s needs are addressed throughout all stages of their lives, with a focus on preventive medicine.

RCOG President Dr Tony Falconer said, “The NHS Future Forum have listened and reported on the real anxieties expressed by patient and professional groups. The realisation that all providers of services will be involved in commissioning is encouraging. Competition is fundamental to the debate and it is encouraging that there is a softening in attitudes with an emphasis on integrated care and the suggested redefinition of the role of Monitor.

“This period of reflection has been very upsetting for many NHS staff who are surrounded by uncertainty but we need a further pause to ensure that the right systems and structures are in place to enable these reforms to work. We have always said that the pace of change was too much, too quick and a cautious, evidence-based approach is needed.

“One message which we have returned to constantly is the education and training of the next generation of doctors. We are pleased that our suggestions had universal appeal and hope that the recommendations to maintain current structures are acted on.”

To view the NHS Future Forum report and the individual themes explored, please click here