Need for NHS reforms questioned

Department of Health building,

The creation of the new NHS Commissioning Board provides a real opportunity to transform the care available to people with rare neuromuscular conditions

Chief Economist on Health Policy at the King’s Fund, Professor John Appleby, has questioned the need for the Government’s NHS reforms in a British Medical Journal article, citing statistical comparisons, which the Government has drawn with other countries, as ‘not straightforward’.

Responding to Professor Appleby’s claims, Health Minister Earl Howe has defended the research and claimed that the proposals will ensure that the NHS is ‘comparable to the world’s best-performing health systems’.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is working with Lord Walton of Detchant and Baroness Thomas of Winchester in asking the key questions and raising widespread concerns about NHS reforms at a meeting with Earl Howe on Tuesday.

When the Health and Social Care Bill was presented to Parliament on 19 January, specialised services were not mentioned. The creation of the new NHS Commissioning Board provides a real opportunity to transform the care available to people with rare neuromuscular conditions, which have been overlooked and neglected for far too long. It is a necessary steps towards a National Neuromuscular Service.

However, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has serious reservations regarding the impact of the proposed move to GP Commissioning for non-specialised primary and secondary care for the 60,000 children and adults in England with muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions.  We are calling for clarification over how specialist services, commissioned by the Board, and more generic services, commissioned by GP consortia, will link together.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has been working constructively with the ten NHS Specialised Commissioning Groups across England. Significant progress has been made regarding improvements to neuromuscular services and an increase in the number of muscular dystrophy Care Advisors. All ten Specialised Commissioning Groups have either reviewed or are reviewing services for people with neuromuscular conditions, and vital work is underway to improve access to specialised neuromuscular services.

NHS reforms must not stand in the way of the vital work being undertaken to improve access to specialised neuromuscular services.

Read our response to the presentation of the Health and Social Care Bill…

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