- 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.
“The NHS will last as long as there are folks left with faith to fight for it,” Nye Bevan said of the organisation he founded in 1948.
Two NHS consultants took that message to the coalition government on Sunday by completing a 160-mile run, from a statue of Bevan in Cardiff to Whitehall, aimed at fighting plans to reform the NHS.
Clive Peedell and David Wilson, both cancer specialists at James Cook University hospital, in Middlesbrough, finished the equivalent of six back-to-back marathons in as many days to protest against the government’s health and social care bill.
At the end of Bevan’s Run, as it was dubbed, Peedell and Wilson delivered a mock postcard from Bevan to No 10 urging the government to drop the bill.
“It was a symbolic message to David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, that Nye Bevan would not have approved of what they are trying to do the NHS. He would have been appalled by it,” Peedell said at the end of the final run.
Along the route Peedell delivered a similar postcard to Cameron’s constituency office in Witney, Oxfordshire.
Peedell and Wilson completed the run wearing T-shirts bearing Bevan’s quote. They were greeted by up to 300 campaigners outside the Department of Health headquarters.
“When we saw all the people at Richmond House it was a real lift. It was a fantastic feeling to finish,” Peedell said.
“We did it to highlight opposition to the health and social care bill, which would increasingly privatise the NHS and undermine its founding principles which Nye Bevan outlined.”
Related: Bevan’s Run
Labour is to step up its campaign to block the government health reforms, accusing the government of allowing NHS hospitals to devote half their beds, appointments and car park spaces to the treatment of private patients.
The move represents a hardening of Labour’s opposition to what it regards as the privatisation of the NHS.
Shadow ministers admit privately that some Labour opposition has been hobbled by the coalition claim that they are completing Blairite reforms.
Labour released a clutch of emails from Liberal Democrat activists complaining that the party leadership was going beyond the mandate given by the party at the Liberal Democrat spring party conference in Sheffield in March. .
The health and social care bill has yet to receive its report stage in the House of Lords and Labour is still hoping Liberal Democrat peers can be persuaded to rebel. So far, such Liberal Democrat rebellions on the health and welfare bills have been small.
Speaking ahead of a Commons debate on Monday, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: “David Cameron’s plan opens the door to an explosion of private work in NHS facilities, meaning longer waits for NHS patients and a two-tier health service in England.”
Burnham is trying to capitalise on the revelation that a government amendment to the health bill will allow an expansion of private work carried out in NHS hospitals by lifting the current cap from about 2% to 49%.
The Con-Dems faced calls to rethink savage cuts to disability benefits today after vowing to press ahead despite a humiliating triple defeat in the House of Lords.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the government “will seek to reverse the amendments in the Lords” when the Welfare Reform Bill comes back to the Commons.
Peers considering the Bill threw out a series of attacks on employment and support allowance (ESA) on Wednesday night.
They rejected a one-year limit on claiming ESA and insisted on at least two years instead, scrapped the time limit for cancer sufferers and voted that young disabled people unable to work should automatically get ESA.
Neil Coyle of Disability Rights UK said the government’s decision to press ahead with the reforms despite the Lords vote was ill thought out.
It could potentially lead to 300,000 legitimately disabled people losing their benefits, he warned.
“The government should use this opportunity to take a pause on benefit reform,” Mr Coyle said.
“The DWP are saying that the time limit would affect up to 700,000 people, with up to 300,000 disabled people losing all benefits, and the government is saying they are pressing ahead with their agenda.
“This is not evidence-based policy – it is purely about cutting benefits.”
In other news Chancellor George Osborne and others have been scaremongering that an independent Scotland would be unable to use the British pound. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond responded that sterling is not under Osborne’s control. The debate is being incorrectly presented as a choice between the pound and the euro …
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