NHS news review

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Conservative election poster 2010

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.


Apologies that the NHS news review is so late today.

In today’s news:

  • Labour uses its opposition day debate to discuss the NHS. The debate is framed in terms of the epetition which was not to be discussed by parliament despite receiving over 170 thousand signatures. There is a rebel amendment by 5 Lib-Dem MPs which calls for changes according to the Coalition Agreement. I thought that there was no mention of NHS reforms in the Coalition Agreement.
  • Andrew Lansley argues that the NHS would have collapsed without his ‘reforms’. I find his argument rather strange. The NHS was performing well. The argument that doing nothing is not an option does not mean that a huge top-down restructuring – exactly as promised otherwise – combined with huge cuts is necesssary. It is certainly clear to me that Lansley, Cameron, Clegg & Co are intent on destroying the NHS.
  • A second hospital trust is looking to be privately managed.
  • GPs ask for talks with government on implementing reforms while maintaining their opposition.

NHS bill: Lords and MPs debating healthcare shake-up


Controversial plans to overhaul the way the NHS is run in England are again being debated in the Lords, as Labour says the bill can still be stopped.

Peers are examining the Health and Social Care Bill and there will be a Labour-led NHS debate in the Commons.

Labour says it will support a motion by rebel Lib Dem MPs calling for the bill to be dropped.

But health minister Simon Burns told the BBC he was “very confident” it would become law by the spring.

The legislation is now coming to the end of its report stage in the Lords and is expected to become law within weeks.

While peers debate the legislation, MPs will be asked to vote on Labour’s motion: “That this House: notes the e-petition signed by 170,000 people calling on the government to drop the health and social care bill; and declines to support the bill in its current form.”



Rebel amendment

Five Lib Dem backbenchers, Andrew George, John Pugh, Adrian Sanders, Greg Mulholland and David Ward have put forward their own amendment which “declines to support the Bill in its current form” and calls for an “urgent summit” of government, health and patients’ groups to plan reforms “based on the coalition agreement”.

Labour sources have told the BBC the party will back the amendment, to try to bolster Lib Dem opposition and build a cross-party alliance to defeat the Bill, ahead of its final reading in the Commons next week.


Related: NHS reforms: Lib Dem divisions resurface as bill returns to parliament

NHS will collapse without reforms, Andrew Lansley warns

Health secretary says he doesn’t care about ‘attacks’ by health professionals, the NHS must change to avert crisis

Andrew Lansley has mounted a defiant defence of his unpopular NHS reforms, claiming that the changes will stop the service from collapsing.

In a strongly worded article in the British Journal of Nursing (BJN), the health secretary lambasts Labour’s “hypocritical” opposition to his plans to extend competition in the NHS and shrugs off the sometimes vitriolic criticism he inspires.

“Some people say we should not have embarked on this programme of NHS reform. To those people who doubt what we are doing I would say, because of the pressures we are facing, we cannot afford not to reform the NHS. To take the approach advocated by Labour of simply sitting on our hands would be storing up a crisis for the future”, Lansley writes.


Second NHS trust faces privatisation


 Shadows of privateers circling the NHS grew darker today when a health trust in Warwickshire said it was open to a takeover.

George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton said it’s in talks with a clutch of potential partners, including Serco and Circle, and tender documents may be published next month.

In February, Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust in Cambridgeshire became the first all-purpose general hospital to be managed by a private company when Circle took control.

Former Labour health minister Mike O’Brien (pictured), who lost his local Warwickshire seat in 2010, has accused the government of forcing the hospital board into the merger.

He told the Coventry Telegraph that the idea should be dropped, adding: “I think this is about the values of the NHS. It is the National Health Service, not the National Health Business.”



NHS bill: GPs offer to help with health changes


The Royal College of GPs has indicated it is willing to work again with the government on implementing changes to the NHS in England, it has emerged.

The body had been omitted from talks since declaring its opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill last month.

Its head, Clare Gerada, said members had not changed opinion but were willing to help “find a way forward”.

She said the royal college still wanted the bill withdrawn but it was time to “stop polarising” the debate.



How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems

What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-knownOrange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.


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