Medical staff in England prepare for major NHS changes

  • 28 March 2013
  • From the section Health
Measuring blood pressure

Major changes to the NHS in England finally come into force on Monday, 1 April.

The Health and Social Care Act has been a long time coming and caused arguments between politicians and medical groups.

It represents a huge change to the structure of the organisation, which most people will use in their lifetime.

The main change involves giving GPs more control of the NHS so they spend the cash directly according to the needs of their patients.

And private companies will get the chance to provide more of the services.

But patients are unlikely to see any immediate change when they go for their hospital or doctors appointments.

Newsbeat got the view of a doctor, a nurse and a patient.

Tom Coffey, GP

Tom Coffey is a GP at Brocklebank Health Centre in Earlsfield, south-west London
Tom Coffey is a GP at Brocklebank Health Centre in Earlsfield, south-west London

"The government's giving GPs two thirds of the NHS budget to decide how to spend it, to decide which services to buy, which services in the community to buy or which services should close.

"Previously there was lots of committees, lots of managers. Now - they're giving power and money to GPs.

"I'm in favour of that because every day I see 50 patients. They tell me their personal experiences of the hospital, the district nursing or the dentistry. It's really useful for me to use that information to help mould the health service locally.

"On the private sector issue, I'm less convinced. Sometimes when the NHS doesn't have the capacity or we're short of beds, it's great to buy some more beds from the private sector.

"But if you leave a wholesale introduction of the private sector, they might just cherry pick the things that are easy to do, the ones they can make the most money out of and leave the NHS with the complex, expensive services."

Jenny Russell, practice nurse

Jenny Russell, practice nurse
Jenny Russell is a practice nurse

"The nursing team and our patients shouldn't be affected. There's a lot of stuff going on in the background with the GPs having more control over the budget.

"Generally I don't think our role will be affected and the patients' care won't be affected in any way.

"People are so used to the NHS as it is and are so used to free healthcare that I think people are worried - and understandably anxious - that those are going to change.

"They think it might become more means-tested, their care might be changed and it's going towards privatisation but the patients will get the same treatment they had before. "

Thomas Smith, NHS patient

Thomas Smith, 26, is an environmental consultant and NHS patient
Thomas Smith, 26, is an environmental consultant and NHS patient

"I use the NHS a couple of times a year. The less the better but when you need to, you do.

"I feel it's a good standard of care. Ultimately it's for free and that's the main thing.

"I can't see change is always a bad thing. If it allows the local GPs to respond to the issues in the area that can only be a good thing.

"There's always a time and a place for private health services but I wouldn't want to be in a situation where the public health is taken away."

These changes do not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

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