MP backs Government’s NHS reforms

PLANS for a major revamp of the NHS have the support of Boston and Skegness MP Mark Simmonds, who helped work on the Government’s health policy while a shadow minister.

The coalition Government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill could see GPs given more say over NHS spending and encourage more competition with the private sector.

The bill has sparked national headlines after encountering opposition from the Royal Colleges of nurses and midwives as well as Labour politicians. However Conservative MP Mr Simmonds believes the policy is what is needed to meet the needs of an ageing population.

Mr Simmonds, who had a role as shadow health minister but did not get a position in the coalition Government, told The Standard: “I was very heavily involved in policy development prior to the election and I remain convinced that the NHS should stay free at the point of use, based on need not ability to pay.

“However, I am equally convinced that the NHS needs reform. We must take into account the rising cost of healthcare and our ageing population, which is only increasing.

“The reforms will ensure that GP’s are much more involved in commissioning services for patients and will provide more choice for patients.

“The evidence is overwhelming that competition within health services drives up quality of care for patients.

“It is also imperative that we promote integration within the NHS to ensure that the patient becomes the centre of the service.”

The plans were put on hold last spring after MPs and peers opposed the bill and the Government has since made a number of amendments to try to appease its critics.

The bill’s latest setback came last week when the House of Lords backed an amendment to place a greater emphasis on mental health.

According to parliamentary records Mr Simmonds earns £50,000 a year in a 10-hour-a-month role as a strategic advisor to private health provider Circle Healthcare.