Responding to Liberating the NHS: Legislative framework and next steps, Dr Patrick Cadigan, registrar of the Royal College of Physicians said:
It is encouraging that the government was prepared to take on board some of the concerns we raised. The RCP believes strongly that good decision-making hinges on professional groups, communities and patients working together. This was a point made repeatedly by others during the consultation process and we are pleased that it has been partially recognised, in that that the forthcoming Bill will provide for consortia to make arrangements to ensure that they have appropriate advice from professionals with expertise in health. However, we will continue to press ministers for a framework that formally mandates specialist involvement in commissioning.
More broadly, the government is right to adopt a more phased approach to its reforms. Whichever way you look at it these are an ambitious set of proposals that happen to coincide with the biggest efficiency drive in the service’s history. Robust piloting of the plans, doing more to get staff on board, and a degree of flexibility around their implementation will all be key to ensuring that the plans deliver for patients in the ways intended. There should be no place for dogmatism when we are talking about so many people’s lives, and this amount of public money.