The Royal College of Radiologists has joined the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives in opposing the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The RCR says the Health Bill does not currently contain a clear duty on health secretary to take direct responsibility for the provision of comprehensive and equitable healthcare for the whole of the population of England.
A statement from the College said: “Recognising that whilst competition has for some time played a role in the NHS, we remain alarmed that the dangers of unfettered competition as outlined in the Bill will adversely affect integrated care in both clinical oncology and clinical radiology.”
It added that there is “great risk of widespread, and potentially embedded, health inequalities across the NHS”.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll this week finds that 78% of 1,600 medical professionals believe the Health Bill plans will exclude more people from healthcare.
Seven out of ten think it will lead to patient charges for basic services such as ambulance, cancer screening and maternity care.
Commenting on the survey, Dr Helena McKeown, a GP from Wiltshire, said: “This poll shows what anyone who works in the NHS has known for months – Lansley’s plans are a disaster for patients. 84% have no confidence that the right balance between competition and collaboration will be struck as Lansley claims, so it’s no surprise that only 13% of NHS staff surveyed think he’s doing a good job – he’s not.”
The hardening in opposition follows the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ (AMRC) eleventh hour about face on publicly opposing the Health Bill. Behind the scenes ministers accused the colleges of becoming too political, and the Royal College of Surgeons maintained its support for the Bill.
The RCR statement adds: “Clinical radiology has already seen the negative impact of outsourcing on integration. Procuring radiology services from different sources would have a hugely detrimental impact on integration adding costs to the NHS overall.
“In a tertiary specialty such as clinical oncology, fragmentation will impact negatively on the capacity to deliver coherent care locally. It will also undo the excellent national co-ordinated patterns of care achieved through the cancer agenda. The capacity to deliver the right care in the right place to the right patient would be seriously undermined.”
The developments follow a series of high level talks last week including a parliamentary meeting of the royal colleges and others chaired by Lord Owen, and another between the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing and the AMRC.