26/02/2012 10:35 GMT | Updated 26/02/2012 10:36 GMT

NHS Reforms 'Setting The Health Service Back' Says Lord Crisp, Former NHS Chief Executive

The government's NHS reforms are a "mess" and setting the health service back, according to former NHS chief executive and permanent secretary of the department of health Lord Crisp.

The crossbencher peer told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend the Bill was a "mess."

"I think it’s unnecessary in many ways, and I think it misses the point. The point is it should be setting out the direction of travel of the NHS, which is more community, more prevention based, and it should identify the sort of mechanisms for using that, which would obviously include some use of competition, some use of the private sector, but much greater emphasis on integration, and on panning, on getting the balance right. I think it’s confused and confusing, and I think it’s unfortunately setting the NHS back," he said on Sunday afternoon.

Crisp's warning came it was revealed nine out of 10 members of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) want the NHS reform to be scrapped.

The study shows that 92.5% of RCP members want the Health and Social Care Bill withdrawn, according to the Observer, which said it had seen the findings.

The report comes on the eve of the RCP's emergency meeting to discuss the controversial reforms.

The leadership of the College has been coming under pressure from some members over its willingness to continue negotiations with ministers on the Bill.

Last week, more than 30 fellows and members of the College wrote to the Daily Telegraph saying its president, Sir Richard Thompson, should not have accepted an invitation to a Downing Street summit last Monday.

Number 10 was criticised by Labour and health professionals for Downing Street's decision not to invite Royal Colleges opposed to the Bill.

On Friday of last week Lib Dem President Tim Farron said the NHS Bill should have been either substantially changed or dropped, in a clear sign of festering resentment among his party.

Despite the opposition, George Osborne said on Sunday morning "we need to see the NHS Bill through."

"Let's be clear, the reason why we need to see this reform of the NHS is because we are absolutely committed to an NHS that's free at the point of use for people, but as the society ages, as we live longer, we have got to have an NHS that can afford new treatments and that's an NHS that offers choice, that brings in different providers."

But shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Crisp's words were a "humiliation" for the government. "It's clear that this is now just about saving face for David Cameron and Nick Clegg, not what's best for the NHS. They are forcing onto the statute book a busted flush of a Bill despite clear warnings from patients and professionals that it will damage the NHS. Only today 25 charities have warned that it will leave vulnerable patients in 'no man's land'."