In our survey launched on 5 March 25,417 fellows and members of the Royal College of Physicians were asked their views of the Health and Social Care Bill and wider health issues. Thirty-five per cent (8,878) responded to the survey, which ran from 5 March to 15 March. The survey took place during the final stages of the Bill in the House of Lords and was in response to a request for an Extraordinary General Meeting called by 20 fellows of the RCP and attended by 189 fellows.
On the question of respondents’ personal view of the Bill:
- 6% (525) ‘Accept’ the Bill
- 69% (6,092) opted to ‘Reject’ the Bill as it stood
- 22% (1,971) ‘Neither completely accept, nor completely reject’ the Bill
- 3% (290) declined to give an opinion.
However, fellows and members were also asked a supplementary question on how they wished the RCP to proceed;
- 46% (4,099) urged the RCP to ‘Continue to engage critically on further improving the Bill’
- 49% (4,386) wished the RCP to ‘Seek withdrawal of the Bill’
- 4% (393) declined to give an opinion.
Finally, the RCP also took the opportunity to survey fellows and members on their top five concerns related to the Bill and the wider health agenda. The results are as follows:
On the Bill:
- Training, education and research (5,550 put in their top five concerns)
- Use of the private sector (5,414)
- Commissioning by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) (4,905)
- Choice and competition (4,866)
- Proposed structural change (introducing the National Commissioning Board, CCG’s, etc) (4,687)
- Role of secretary of state (3,216)
- Regulation - the role of Monitor (2,357)
- Integration (2,153)
- National Commissioning Board (1,935)
- Regulation - the role of CQC (1,667)
- Public health and establishment of health and wellbeing boards (1,490)
- Private patient cap (1,184)
On the wider health agenda, including the Bill, fellows and members were very concerned about issues affecting current patient care in the NHS such as lack of continuity of care, budget cuts and staff shortages:
- Lack of continuity of care (4,990 put in their top five concerns)
- Efficiency savings and reductions in NHS funding (4,642)
- Clinical staff shortages (4,387)
- Health reforms (ie the Health and Social Care Bill in England) (4,089)
- Education, training and research (3,370)
- Impact of European Working Time Directive/New Deal (2,948)
- Current structural change (eg abolishing PCTs, SHAs in England etc) (2,759)
- Quality of commissioning (2,369)
- Workload in acute medicine (2,352)
- Management of chronic conditions (2,110)
- Social care (1,645)
- Patient safety (1,584)
- Nursing issues (1,554)
- Waiting times (586)
- Revalidation (553)
- Foundation trust status (459)
RCP president Sir Richard Thompson said:
We believe that this is the single biggest survey among the medical royal colleges, with the highest turnout, and while it shows there is a clear majority of RCP’s fellows and members who would personally reject the Bill, opinion is divided almost equally on whether the RCP should continue to critically engage or now call for the withdrawal of the Bill.
The areas of most concern to RCP fellows and members are the areas on which we have been strongly lobbying government, MPs, peers and other stakeholders: training, education and research; use of the private sector; commissioning by clinical commissioning groups; and choice and competition.
In response to concerns over the wider health issues I am pleased that we have already established a groundbreaking commission on the future hospital that seeks to address key issues that RCP fellows and members have ranked above the Bill as issues of concern, namely: lack of continuity of care and clinical staff shortages. The quality of care that patients receive is clearly at the core of physicians’ concerns and mirrors the key areas of the mission and objectives of the RCP.
I would like to thank all the RCP fellows and members who took time to complete the survey.
- At the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 27 February we undertook to ensure that the survey was robust, secure, would go to all members and fellows within five working days of the EGM [by 5 March] and would if it all possible go out in time to still influence the outcome of the Bill before the House of Lords completed its deliberations.
- The survey was undertaken by Electoral Reform Services (ERS) who securely and independently conducted and validated the survey which ran from 5 March to noon on 15 March. 25,417 fellows and members were surveyed by post and by e-mail (where we had an e-mail address). They were able to respond by post or by a secure internet site. View a blank PDF of the postal survey.
- It is our understanding according to current parliamentary timetables that the House of Lords is due to complete third reading of the Health and Social Care Bill on 19 March and the House of Commons will further deliberate on the Bill on 20 March.