There are very few NHS news articles so far today after yesterday’s glut. News is concentrating on the year’s anniversary of the Con-Dem coalition. There are articles suggesting that Nick Clegg is going to be more forceful in defending the NHS following the Liberal-Democrats abysmal election results last week.
- 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.
There is no better story in political journalism than a row between the two coalition partners. Flare-ups and fallings-out make delightful copy: they offer the distant, delicious prospect of name-calling, resignations, even the possible collapse of the government and a general election. Andrew Lansley’s health bill – and the pause in proceeding with it – is being seen through this prism. But it isn’t the only way of viewing events, let alone the best one.
After all, the Liberal Democrats originally backed the bill. The coalition agreement referred specifically to GPs commissioning care for patients – the bedrock of the health secretary’s plans. These are enshrined in the bill, and not one Lib Dem MP voted against the bill at its second reading. Paul Burstow, a fully fledged health minister, played his part in backing the bill. Nick Clegg himself signed the white paper that presaged it.
In opposition, he said: “I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you need to do to make it a more responsive service”, and indicated that replacing it with a social insurance system shouldn’t be ruled out. The Orange Book – which contained essays from senior figures often seen as being on the party’s left, such Vince Cable and Steve Webb – said that “the NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population”.
Anti-cuts campaigners who have closed scores of high street stores with a string of direct action demonstrations are launching a new campaign against the government’s proposed shakeup of the NHS.
Hundreds of activists dressed as doctors and nurses are planning to occupy banks around the country on 28 May, transforming them into mocked-up hospitals, GPs’ surgeries and operating theatres.
The campaign – described as the “emergency operation” – is being organised by UK Uncut and aims to highlight the banks’ role in the financial crisis and the impact of the government’s NHS plans on patient care.
“The banks are back paying lavish bonuses and raking in billions in profit, yet the government tells us there is no alternative to unprecedented public sector cuts,” a UK Uncut supporter, who gave his name as Jack Davies, said.
The day of action, which activists hope will close down scores of high street banks across the UK, is the first major protest UK Uncut has called since 145 of its supporters were arrested for occupying the Fortnum & Mason food store during the TUC’s anti-cuts rally in March.