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Editor’s blog Monday 4 October 2010: Lansley's "welcome" for BMA's highly critical White Paper consultation response

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has issued a statement of "welcome" for the BMA's highly-critical response to his White Paper'Equity And Excellence: Liberating The NHS'.

This clearly involves some novel definition of the word "welcome", of which I am not hitherto aware. Perhaps this is a 'liberated' welcome?

Lansley's statement say "The White Paper set out the Government's vision for a patient-centred NHS that achieves health outcomes that are among the best in the world. I welcome the BMA's response to the White Paper. They agree that general practice led commissioning is the best place to manage patient care. Doctors are clear through the BMA that the way forward is to focus on patients, on outcomes, and on devolved decision-making.

"If we are going to manage resources more effectively, the clinicians that are making the biggest decisions with the biggest impact — referral and prescribing — need to be the same clinicians who know best how two things come together. We need a healthcare system where the management of the care of patients, is combined with an understanding of how resources are used. Healthcare professionals are best placed to do this and know where resource is needed to improve outcomes for patients.

"There are many GPs across the country who are keen to make the transition quickly, others want to know more about how it's going to work before they implement it. This is what the consultation process is about, everyone coming forward to say how can we make this work".

There's a particularly disingenuous bit at the end there. The consultation period is about not getting your legislation challenged on the 'failure to consult' grounds in law, plus it is what people generally do when they write a White Paper.

Even among such natural supporters of the move to GP commissioning as NHS Alliance, a recent survey of members and their networks of colleagues have revealed significant concerns about the process towards putting the new system in place.

The NHS Alliance survey's 200 responses revealed that "only 35.2% respondents strongly agree or agree that the timeline for developing the new system and the new GP commissioning consortia is realistic and achievable; 54.9% strongly disagree or disagree".

This is coming from the believers in liberation, Mr Lansley.