Third Sector
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Age UK - Charities welcome Government's pause on NHS reforms

A coalition of leading health charities have welcomed a commitment from Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley to listen to patients' views on NHS reform, but are urging the government to take this opportunity to make real changes.

The charity Rethink Mental Illness is leading a coalition of health charities who are campaigning together to make sure the government are listening to patients on NHS reform.

The charity coalition want to ensure the NHS is answerable to everyone it serves, with patient involvement and democratic accountability enshrined at its heart - what the government itself has called, 'no decision about me without me'.

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins commented: 'There is a disappointing gap between rhetoric and reality. Unless the Bill is amended, GP Consortia would be free to commission services without meaningful input from the people who would use them.

'It would be a mistake to assume that the HealthWatch bodies described in the Bill will be well equipped to fulfil this role. It's unlikely that they will be representative of all patients, especially marginalised groups, such as people with a mental illness. Our charities call for assurances from the government that everyone will have a say in their local NHS, not just those who are the most able.'

The importance of involving the public

The charity coalition believes the current Bill also does not do enough to ensure that the public has a meaningful role in the governance of GP Consortia.

Currently, the Bill states the consortia will be able to set up their governance structures in the way they see fit. While some consortia will clearly see the benefit of involving the public, the fear is that many will not.

The charities involved in this campaign include Rethink Mental Illness, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, National Voices, The British Heart Foundation, The Neurological Alliance, and The Stroke Association.