The changes which took place on the 1st April 2013 have been dubbed the ‘most radical’ changes to the NHS so far, as the Government creates a massive 200 new organisations.
In order for primary care to be effective, both the doctor and patient must trust each other. Many would go as far to say that there is a ‘special bond’ between the doctor and patient, and doctors have frequently placed amongst the ‘most trusted professionals’ in recent polls. However, what will happen to this ‘special relationship’ when GPs have control of the budget? On one hand, it could be argued that they will have the best idea about how to spend the budget as they are the ones closest to those who need it. However, some argue that this will damage the ‘special relationship’ between the GP and the patient, and a recent poll held by the British Medical Association showed that over 75% of GPs feared the reform, as there is a possibility that patients could become suspicious if they do not get the prescription they would prefer, in order to save money.
Another of the reforms is to improve the care received by those with chronic conditions. Too often, the care required by these individuals is not available, and patients end up in hospital when they suffer from emergencies. In fact, there are over 15 million people with long-term illnesses in the UK, but caring for them accounts for 70% of the budget spent by health care sectors – a massive chunk! However, over 30% of these hospital admissions are avoidable, and the new reforms are pushing for a network of much more integrated community clinics to help those who need it.
Responsibility for public health will now be passed to the Government, who will now be responsible for promoting stopping smoking, better diets and more physical activities. Public health directors who have previously been working for primary care trusts are now being transferred to local authorities, and whilst the rest of the local government is facing huge cuts, public health directors will be issued a budget of just under 3 billion pounds a year.
One of the most controversial reforms that has possibly caused the most worry to the public is undoubtedly the rise of the private sector. Whilst many have been quick to assume that the private sector will simply pick the most profitable services for themselves, it is believed that these firms will be able to provide better, more efficient services which will drastically drive up standards across the entire sector. What many do not realise, however, is that the private sector is already partially involved in providing NHS care.
However, despite the massive amounts of attention these reforms have attracted, possibly the biggest and most shocking thing is that in the short term particularly, there will be little visible change.