The controversial plans to overhaul the NHS, giving GPs responsibilty for their own budgets and decentralising control of healthcare, has passed through its second reading in the House of Commons, but PR bosses say the Government has failed to communicate the changes effectively to the public.
Matt Carter, UK CEO of Burson Marsteller, said: 'Any change in the NHS will be met with some opposition, because of its size and the number of competing interests. But these proposals look like they are attracting more than the expected levels of concern. In part this is because the Government have failed to make the case for why these reforms are needed.'
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, the prime minister David Cameron said buerocracy and waste in the NHS were unaffordable and 'the risk is doing nothing'. But although no coalition MPs voted against the Bill yesterday, Liberal Democrat Andrew George abstained, saying the plans were 'well intentioned' but needed major surgery' according to the BBC.
Carter added: 'Often Governments and companies delivering change rush to provide 'the answer' before everyone has fully taken in the problem it is supposed to solve. In the absence of a shared sense of purpose, the public and many NHS staff may be left in the dark as to what the reforms are supposed to achieve and more likely to believe this is just 'change for change's sake'.
And Eben Black, head of media and director of global Government relations, at DLA Piper, added: 'Every Government wants to change the NHS and every Government falls foul of doing so, even though the political consensus is something has to be done.Tony Blair's reforms came under attack from his own side just as the Conservatives are now. The fundamental thing to remember is patients do not care or probably even know how the NHS is run.
'Only people who work in it do. So long as the public perceives they are receiving or potentially could receive proper treatment, then all is well. The PR job the Government must do is cut through the petty squabbling and show that this time their plans will produce results. That, however, could be the problem.'