16/03/2012 09:41 GMT | Updated 16/03/2012 09:43 GMT

NHS Reforms Rejected By Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has voted overwhelmingly in favour to reject the Health and Social Care Bill as it stands.

On Friday it was announced that 69 per cent of those surveyed opted to reject the Bill with only six per cent accepting it.

The RCP conducted the survey ahead of the third reading of Secretary of State Andrew Lansley’s Bill in the House of Lords on the 19th March.

RCP president Sir Richard Thompson said: "We believe that this is the single biggest survey among the medical royal colleges, with the highest turnout, and while it shows there is a clear majority of RCP’s fellows and members who would personally reject the Bill, opinion is divided almost equally on whether the RCP should continue to critically engage or now call for the withdrawal of the Bill."

Health Minister Lord Howe said: "While it is disappointing that some members of the Royal College of Physicians have voted to reject the Bill, it is worth noting that only a third of the college's 25,000 members voted in this process, and under half of those members have asked for it to be withdrawn. This is just 17 per cent of the RCP membership.”

The RCP add their name to an ever increasing list of organisations that are opposed to the Bill including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Midwives.

The results are yet another blow to the Bill which has seen fierce resistance from the House of Lords with the government having to offer numerous concessions in an attempt to get the Bill passed.

Recent amendments have seen the government capitulate to concerns that the Bill could amount to an effective privatisation of parts of the NHS leading to a two-tier health service.

Howe said: “"We have already strengthened the Health Bill following the listening exercise and have responded directly to the points raised by the Royal College of Physicians, including making clear that competition would only be used to benefit patients, never as an end in itself. “

RCP members were also asked to rate their main areas of concern regarding the Bill and the wider NHS with ‘lack of continuity of care’, ‘efficiency savings and reductions in NHS funding’ and ‘clinical staff shortages’ topping the list.

Thompson said: “The quality of care that patients receive is clearly at the core of physicians’ concerns and mirrors the key areas of the mission and objectives of the RCP.”