Health experts warn that the government will have to be clearer on NHS rationing to avoid worsening the postcode lottery.
The Health and Social Care Bill seeks to abolish the 151 Primary Healthcare Trusts (PCTs) and replace them with more than 250 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). CCGs are groups of GPs that will receive funds from the National Board and make their own funding decisions.
But a poll conducted by Doctors.net.uk reveals that 83 per cent of GPs believe that handing NHS funding decisions to local CCGs will lead to a greater NHS postcode lottery.
In the last year NHS primary care trusts in England have increasingly been banning or severely restricting patients' access to a range of procedures such as hernia operations, hip and knee replacements, IVF and costly, but arguably more effective, drugs.
And 85 per cent of GPs think that the financial challenge facing the NHS will eventually force the government to set out more clearly what care is, and is not, freely available on the NHS.
The survey results are published alongside a report by health policy think tank Nuffield Trust, which finds that there is a lack of transparency in the current system about how spending decisions are made.
The report recommends greater transparency on what is being funded by CCGs. It states there should be a set of principles established that would shape how public money is spent in the NHS. This will remind CCGs of what should underpin their funding decisions.
In addition, Nuffield Trust recommends publishing a national list of the treatments that public money should not be spent on in the NHS. Any divergences from these national guidelines from CCGs should be transparent and scrutinised before being finalised.
Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive of Doctors.net.uk, said: "Health care inequity is already a divisive issue and the changes in funding, with clinicians making decisions locally, will only serve to create more of a patchwork quilt.”
"Minimum standards set out in guidance at a national level, and engaging doctors and trusting them to act in the interests of their patients locally, seems the right balance to strike”.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012