First big cracks appear in Lansley’s privatised health service

The whistleblowers who have revealed serious deficiencies in an out-of-hours GP service run by a large private health company which is believed to be putting patient care at risk have performed an important public service. This concerns the contract in Cornwall run by Serco, a private operator which provides services for government in defence, prisons, and education, but is now trying to break into health as well, with its prospects of lucrative future contracts. Continue reading

The battle for the NHS is far from over

So after Prof Steve Field’s emollient smoothing of the jagged edges of Lansley’s health privatisation fetish, that’s now all done and dusted then? Almost certainly not. The Lansley bill is just the latest in a long line of attempts to wrest the NHS out of the public sector and place it firmly, like every other public service and public industry, within a competitive market. Continue reading

Where’s Labour in the battle to save the NHS

It’s all very well for Nick Clegg regaling us each day with what he’s going to do to Lansley and the NHS Bill if his amendments to it aren’t accepted by the Tories. And now we learn what the Tory backwoodsmen are going to do if their ‘red lines’ are not accepted by Clegg. But where’s Labour in all this? We should all be grateful that Clegg – thanks to the electorate’s dumping him on 5 May – is now (at last) sticking his oar in over Lansley’s assault on the NHS. But the fact is, Clegg’s position, flip-flopping all over the place on the NHS as on every other issue, isn’t ours. His aim is to find a formula, if there is one, to keep his own party intact whilst staying (just) inside the Coalition. Ours is a principled rejection of the whole Bill. Continue reading

Lansley’s not for listening

It certainly is a fair assumption that the current Cameron/Lansley ‘listening exercise’ is not about listening, anything but. It is a transparent device, under spurious democratic cover, to change course. It is playing for time so as to get past the local elections as well as a damage limitation exercise to enable No.10 to gauge how the opposition to Lansley’s extremism can be handled with least risk. Those risks come chiefly from two sources: the Royal Colleges and the medical establishment on the one hand and the LibDem threat to pull the plug on the bill in its current form after their spring conference turned it down flat. In the last analysis arguments about the relative merits of the bill are not what counts: it’s a power issue. Having said that, today’s PAC report has produced some dramatic new evidence which could influence the power struggle. Continue reading

“No more pointless reorganisations of the NHS”, Cameron promised

“No more pointless reorganisations of the NHS which aim for change but instead bring chaos”, he promised the Royal College of Nurses two years ago. How persuasive he must have been. Today they voted 478 t0 6 with 13 abstentions to reject the pointless and destructive reorganisation his government has now proposed. The British Medical Association did the same a month ago.

They may yet fall out badly over the NHS, but the Tories and Lib Dems are clearly united on one important thing. Not keeping promises.

(hat tip: Labour List)