Midwives have hit out at David Cameron's proposed changes to the NHS, saying they represent broken promises and go against his pledge for 3,000 more midwives.

The plans put forward by the PM include involving doctors and nurses in new consortia commissioning (which will now be when practices are ready, and not by the initial date of April 2013 as first planned) and the introduction of greater competition when it benefits patient care and choice.

Yet the Royal College of Midwives general secretary, Cathy Warwick, has warned the new proposals could just as easily be further broken promises from the government, following their decision not to follow through with recruiting a further 3,000 midwives.

She said: "David Cameron has not honoured his pre-election pledge to recruit 3,000 more midwives, so how can we trust him not to break his promise on these pledges?

"You cannot change a massive organisation like the NHS without listening to the staff and the public. Change has to be gradual and consensual and involve the public and stakeholders and has got to improve the service.  This bill could be a Trojan horse for privatisation and competition in the NHS. The bill must be altered and the 'duty to promote competition' must be changed. We want it to be a cheerleader and crusader for peoples' health. A duty for the NHS to collaborate on patients' health not compete is what would lead to higher quality care."

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has also urged for caution with the new proposals, saying they'd need to see further details before making a judgement on them. Chief executive of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter said that: "We have to reserve judgement until we see more detail, however the Prime Minister appears to have gone some way in listening to our concerns that commissioning should be clinically-led with nurses involved at every level.

"However, we will be asking for much more detail on this especially as the reality on the ground is that new commissioning consortia are currently being established at pace without nursing representation. New RCN research shows that fewer than one in three consortia currently have nursing representation on their boards."

Posted by Robert Mair on 8.6.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com