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Burns SimonSimon Burns is MP for Chelmsford and is a Minister of State at the Department for Health.

It is extremely disappointing to see a Conservative blog using arguments against the health bill which are so factually incorrect.

Paul asserts that it is 'hard to see' how the bill would make 'a cut in bureaucracy.'

The figures alone speak for themselves – we are reducing the admin spend in the NHS by a third, taking £4.5 billion out of the admin budget over the lifetime of this parliament.

Paul also claims there will be a whole host of new bureaucratic bodies, this is untrue:

  • All remaining 50 PCTs will be abolished from next year.
  • The NHS Commissioning Board will only commission national specialised services that cannot be done at local level and Primary Care contracts to avoid conflicts of interest. The vast majority of NHS work will be in the hands of local clinicians – last week we announced they would be responsible for £65bn of the NHS budget.
  • Clinical senates are actually hosted by the National Commissioning Broad so they are not separate bodies.
  • Health and Well Being boards will be part of local authorities so they will not be separate bodies either. They exist to increase integration across the three strands of healthcare: the NHS, social care and public health.
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups are made up of frontline clinicians who have got together to make decisions about how best to address the health needs of  local people.  This is the very opposite of Labour's bureaucratic approach and should be applauded by Conservatives.


Paul also questions why we need a bill – the reason is simple. The Labour Government tried to bring in greater GP commissioning without legislation, it didn't work because it was  stifled and stymied by the bureaucracy. It is only through legislation that we can give doctors and nurses the powers they need to get on and make the changes we need to see – more care in the community, close to people's homes where they want it and when they want it. Similarly a bill is absolutely necessary to give local councils control once again over public health.

Devolving power to the front line, scrapping bureaucracy and introducing greater choice for patients have been the cornerstone of Conservative thinking for years on health. It is difficult to see why only now, at this late stage in the bill, ConservativeHome has decided it no longer supports these aims.

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