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

NHS reforms: medical leaders demand publication of risk assessment

Doctors’ and nurses’ chiefs call for release of government’s own analysis of dangers ahead of Commons debate

Medical leaders are urging the government to end its “astonishing” refusal to publish its own assessment of the risks its NHS shakeup poses for the service and patients.

The leaders of Britain’s doctors, GPs, nurses and midwives are among an alliance of senior figures in healthcare who are demanding the release of the Department of Health (DH) analysis of the dangers involved in the radical restructuring of the NHS in England.

It should be made available “forthwith” so that parliamentarians scrutinising the health and social care bill can be fully informed about it before they give it final approval, they say. Hamish Meldrum, leader of the British Medical Association (BMA), the chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada, and the Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive, Dr Peter Carter, are among nine signatories of an open letter to ministers on the issue.

It was published on Wednesday morning, hours before MPs were due to stage a six-and-a-half-hour-long debate in the House of Commons in the afternoon. The debate was called by Labour to highlight the government’s refusal to release the NHS risk register. The information commissioner ruled last November that it should be published. There was “a very strong public interest in disclosure of the information, given the significant change to the structure of the health service the government’s policies on the modernisation will bring”, the commissioner said.

The DH appealed against that ruling, however. It claims that releasing the document would set an unwelcome precedent that would make ministers and civil servants reluctant to discuss the risks of certain policies in full detail. But its continued secrecy has prompted rising concern among MPs, peers and medical groups that potentially vital information is being wrongly withheld which could influence the bill’s passage through parliament.

Labour calls on Lib Dem MPs to support NHS risk register fight in Commons today

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, speaking ahead of Labour’s opposition day debate in the House of Commons today, is calling on Liberal Democrat MPs to support his call for the Government’s risk assessment on the Health Bill to be published.

The internal risk register drawn up by the Department of Health shows the impact of the Health and Social Care Bill.

Labour are calling on the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill in order to ensure that it informs public and parliamentary debate.


Why I had to confront Andrew Lansley about the NHS

The NHS doesn’t belong to whichever government is in power – it belongs to the people and we’re being bulldozed from all sides

I have been campaigning to protect the NHS from 1979 when the Conservative government started closing hospitals; in Wandsworth, where I live, they closed five. I campaigned under the Labour government, too. But this is the most frightening situation I have seen.

The NHS is so important to me because I was born outside it, so I know how difficult it is to live without it. I saw my father going to work when he was very ill, because he couldn’t afford to take time off. My mother was ill and he had to pay five shillings for the doctor, our rent was only 12 shillings, so he had to work even though he had emphysema. In those days you couldn’t afford to be ill – and that’s what’s going to happen again.

If this bill goes through it is another step towards privatisation and we will no longer have the same care for everyone. I won’t feel safe. Under the NHS I feel safe, but once it goes private who is accountable? Already it’s difficult to see a chiropodist, optician or dentist.

Lots of people want to tell Andrew Lansley what they think, but he doesn’t want to listen to them. Yesterday, for instance, only the few professional bodies who agreed with the bill were invited to a meeting in Downing Street. The majority, 98%, who oppose the bill, he wouldn’t even listen to.


Lib Dem activists promise NHS bill trouble

Lib Dem activists are preparing an emergency motion for their spring conference urging the party to work towards defeating the NHS reform bill.

It “applauds the hard work being done by Liberal Democrat peers to remove the worst elements” of the Health and Social Care Bill.

It notes the government has “totally failed to convince either the public or NHS staff” of the need for change.


Doctor who criticised NHS reforms is threatened with disciplinary action

Andrew Lansley is accused of bullying staff who speak out against NHS reforms after senior doctor is told to attend hearing


Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, has been accused of “bullying” NHS staff who speak out against his NHS shakeup after a senior doctor who signed a letter criticising the proposed changes was threatened with disciplinary action.

The doctor has been told to attend a disciplinary hearing later this week by the NHS primary care trust (PCT) that employs him. It claims he breached the NHS code of conduct by airing his concerns.

In the Commons Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, asked Lansley if the trust’s action showed it was now his “policy to threaten NHS staff with disciplinary action if they speak out about his reorganisation”. He challenged the minister to reconcile his “new top-down bullying policy” with his previous strong support for NHS whistleblowers.

Prof John Ashton, county medical officer for Cumbria, received a letter from his PCT last week after he joined 22 other signatories to a letter in a national newspaper criticising Lansley’s health and social care bill. The letter read: “You are bound by the NHS code of conduct and as such it is inappropriate for individuals to raise their personal concerns about the proposed government reforms.” Ashton will have to “explain and account” for his actions at the hearing.

[“You have mistaken my professional concerns as personal concerns. I am bound by the requirement to endevour to provide the best possible care for my patients”. Continue by explaining how proposed ‘reforms’ will adversely affect provision of care.]?

I’ve just tried to make an appointment to see my GP. I was offered one in a fortnight’s time. Looks like you need to book them before you get ill.


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