NHS news review

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NHS news is dominated by the claim that progress of the bill to destroy the NHS will be delayed or paused for three months. At least two newspapers claimed this story as an exclusive yesterday. The UK Con-Dem – Conservative and Liberal-Democrat – government certainly have huge problems over this bill and many papers suggest that there is no mandate for such ‘reforms’ and that there has been very poor presentation. There has certainly been poor presentation – there has not even been an explanation of why such dogmatic changes are necessary beyond “doing nothing is not an option”. I’m left wondering whether they were trying to do it quickly and ‘under the radar’.  I should write an article on this issue…

There are also suggestions that the Liberal-Democrats will force amendments to the bill.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Exclusive: Cameron signals retreat on NHS reforms – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

David Cameron will announce this week another humiliating climbdown, putting the brakes on the Government’s health reforms in a desperate attempt to rescue his reputation as a defender of the NHS.

In the latest embarrassing example of the Prime Minister being forced to intervene in the policy of one of his ministers, Mr Cameron will publicly admit to mistakes in the plan by the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, to hand £80bn of health spending to family doctors, characterised by critics as privatisation by the back door.

Mr Cameron will announce a “pause” of up to three months in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament, to allow for more time to reassure clinicians, patients and coalition MPs. One option being considered is a series of public meetings at which Mr Lansley would be forced to restate the case for reform in a less confrontational manner.

Leading article: The mystery of NHS reform – Leading Articles, Opinion – The Independent

The kindest way to put it is that we are baffled. The Independent on Sunday was long prepared to extend to David Cameron the benefit of the doubt. In opposition, he made many of the brave and necessary changes to the Conservative Party for it to become electable again – although we were sceptical about, for example, his conversion to the Green cause. One of the most important changes was to neutralise his party’s reputation for hostility to the National Health Service.

Now, less than a year into government, Mr Cameron’s claim to lead the party of the NHS is in doubt. As we report today, the Prime Minister and his deputy are preparing, in conditions of unusual secrecy, to announce this week a delay to the Health and Social Care Bill, which has just completed its committee stage in the House of Commons.

The confusion over the Government’s plans for the NHS is, to put it at its most moderate, surprising. This is a matter not just of ideology but of competence.

The Prime Minister seems to have assumed, despite the evidence over many years, that Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, knew what he was doing. When Mr Lansley succeeded in uniting doctors, nurses, public opinion and most Liberal Democrats against his reforms, No 10 seems to have assumed that he needed to communicate the changes better.

It is certainly the case that the communication of the policy has been lamentable. Mr Lansley’s main message has been that GP- commissioning was promised in the Tory and Liberal Democrat manifestos, and in their coalition agreement. That claim lacks a basis in fact, to put it politely. The Tory manifesto spoke of giving GPs the power to commission care, rather than requiring them to do so, and the coalition document was similarly permissive. The Lib Dem manifesto was silent on the issue. The coalition agreement also promises that primary care trusts (PCTs) “will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs”. The Bill dispenses with the trusts altogether.

Andrew Lansley: He’s got designs on our health | From the Observer | The Observer

When Labour criticises health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans for the NHS, David Cameron has a stock riposte. He likes to quote a recent speech delivered by the opposition health spokesman John Healey. “No one in the House of Commons knows more about the NHS than Andrew Lansley… No one has visited more of the NHS. No one has talked to more people who work in the NHS than Andrew Lansley.”

It is one way to take the wind out of the opposition’s sails during prime minister’s questions – but an entirely disingenuous one. Healey was merely noting Lansley’s intellectual thoroughness, and encyclopaedic knowledge, in an address which attacked the plans as a disaster for patients.

Nor does Cameron’s party trick cheer up Tory MPs for long. If there is one domestic issue that worries Conservatives more than any other, it is Lansley’s commitment to force through the most sweeping changes to the NHS since its formation in 1948. The medical profession is uneasy. Inside Downing Street there is profound anxiety. “Why are we taking this on?” officials ask. “Why are we doing this?”

NHS reform fight arrives on Stourbridge MP’s doorstep (From Halesowen News)

CAMPAIGNERS fighting NHS reforms brought their battle to Stourbridge with a 213,000 name petition for the town’s MP.

Representatives from protest group 38 Degrees handed over the petition at the offices of Tory MP Margot James as part of a nationwide campaign opposing government plans to make GPs responsible for most heath service spending.

Ms James is a member of the parliamentary committee which is considering the proposals, 38 Degrees fear the changes will put health care into the hands of the private sector.

BBC News – Cameron and Clegg to push case for NHS changes

PM David Cameron and deputy Nick Clegg are to make a renewed drive to promote planned changes to the NHS in England.

The coalition is also understood to be ready to introduce changes to the legislation when it returns to the House of Lords after May’s elections.

This follows mounting disquiet that ministers have failed to convince voters that change is necessary.

Government ‘planning to water down NHS reforms’ – Channel 4 News

While Downing Street today denied that David Cameron was rowing back on his commitment to the reforms, it is believed that he will agree to some amendments, including the way in which private companies will be able to operate in the new NHS, writes Channel 4 News Social Affairs Correspondent Victoria Macdonald.

He and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg are also expected to announce that they are about to embark on a “listening exercise” so they can take on board what some of the concerns are.

There were suggestions today, too, that the NHS Health and Social Care Bill would be delayed, but Downing Street has denied this.

Instead, the amendments are likely to include a limit to the ability of private companies to cherry-pick the easiest and more profitable cases; that the regulator, Monitor, will have to promote value for money above competition – at the moment competition is central to its role; and there were will be changes to make GP consortia more publicly accountable.

NHS service backed by 70% / Britain / Home – Morning Star

Public-sector union Unison leader Dave Prentis warned the government today that over 70 per cent of the public oppose plans to pay private contractors to handle blood and organ transplants.

A Unison YouGov poll of over 2,000 people last week found that 72 per cent would oppose private companies running any part of the National Health Service’s Blood and Transplant Service.

The result could prove a stumbling block for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who commissioned a review of the service late last year to make it more “commercially effective.”

Mr Lansley then claimed that it would be more cost-effective to contract out some functions of the service “so long as there was no conflict with public health.”

David Cameron set to announce delay to NHS reforms | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron is preparing to bow to insurmountable political opposition by putting the coalition’s flagship NHS reform bill on hold beyond Easter, and possibly for as long as three months.

The announcement of a delay, agreed at a meeting involving Cameron and Cabinet colleagues last Thursday, is expected to come this week at a joint event involving David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Some sources have told the Guardian that Cameron is no longer listening to Lansley, and is taking his advice from Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive.

In a sign of the political obstacles facing the prime minister, the leaders of a Liberal Democrat revolt against the reforms will release their 23 detailed demands for sweeping changes to the bill.

Cameron poised to water down NHS reforms – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is fighting a desperate rearguard action to save his NHS reforms amid pressure to water them down from David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Mr Lansley is determined not to abandon his plans to transfer 60 per cent of the health budget to GPs and wants to concede only minor changes during the NHS and Social Care Bill’s passage through Parliament.

Cameron poised to water down NHS reforms – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is fighting a desperate rearguard action to save his NHS reforms amid pressure to water them down from David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Mr Lansley is determined not to abandon his plans to transfer 60 per cent of the health budget to GPs and wants to concede only minor changes during the NHS and Social Care Bill’s passage through Parliament.

But there are growing signs that he will be forced to go further than that to allay fears that the shake-up could lead to “backdoor privatisation” and wreck Mr Cameron’s drive to win the public’s trust on health.

Demands for a rethink will grow today when Ed Miliband offers all-party talks on health reform – but only if the Government ditches the Bill first. Speaking to the RSA think-tank in London, the Labour leader will attack the “chaos” over the reforms and say the way they have been handled is a “disgrace”. Mr Miliband will say: “This is a direct consequence of a coalition based on power, convenience and ambition rather than values.”


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

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