by Daphne Liddle
THE CON-Dem Coalition’s flagship Health and Social Care Bill is being rammed through both Houses of Parliament and could become law within weeks.
It is being driven by a devil’s compact between David Cameron and Nick Clegg that is allowing a few minor concessions and a little bit of extra cash recently discovered to enable Clegg to bring his reluctant Liberal Democrat MPs along with him.
Rank and file Lib Dems will not forgive their leaders for their complicity in destroying the one thing in this country that its people treasure most.
And the Labour leadership will not be forgiven for putting up such a weak and belated fight against it. And there are plenty of Tories, who also value the NHS as it is, who will not forgive their leaders for this monstrous act.
The Tories are still fighting to keep the risk register report on the Bill from the public. Why would they do this unless there is something very serious to hide?
The Government’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision to uphold Freedom of Information requests from Labour MP John Healey and London’s Evening Standard began last Monday at the Information Tribunal.
Unite, the largest union in the country, ratcheted up the pressure against the Bill on Wednesday by organising a lobby of Parliament in London for people to meet local MPs and tell them why the controversial bill should be scrapped.
Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey said:
“Andrew Lansley is deceiving the public about the true implications of the Health and Social Care Bill by his dogged refusal to publish the risk register.
“The Government’s refusal to publish the register points to a recognition that its reforms will risk patient care and cost millions to implement — taxpayers’ money which should be spent on patient care. What has the Government got to hide?
“We cannot stand by and let this 64-year-old achievement be dismantled under a cloak of secrecy.”
And the GPs Committee of the British Medical Association has issued another call in a letter to the Government to scrap the Bill. Dr Laurence Buckman, who chairs the committee, said: “Over time, it has become clear that this is the most top-down reorganisation the NHS has seen since its inception” and that, despite what the Government says, “the ability for ordinary GPs to change things will diminish” under the Health and Social Care Bill.
The concerns set out by Dr Buckman in the letter include:
- Ordinary GPs within Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) not having the ability to improve the health service — a key plank of the original proposals — as CCGs are forced to develop into ever larger and more remote units in order to be approved by the NHS Commissioning Board;
- Pressure to adhere to an unrealistic timetable for approval, known as “authorisation”, forcing GPs to make decisions about the running of their local health service, which they might not make if they had more time;
- CCGs becoming the vehicles for turning the NHS into a competitive marketplace where services have to compete for their business and where patient care becomes increasingly fragmented;
- The potential for commissioning to be controlled not by clinicians but by the private organisations, operating outside of the NHS, which could end up not only running the “back office functions” for CCGs but also disempowering them;
- Proposals for a “quality reward” — an incentive for CCGs if they are deemed to have commissioned “well”, which could cause irreparable damage to the relationship GPs have with their patients GPs being blamed by their patients for having to close services for financial reasons.
Dr Buckman has urged the Government “to listen and act on the concerns of GPs in the interests of the future of the NHS and what is best for patients — there is a sensible alternative to proceeding with this Bill.”
The people of this country will not forgive any MP who fails to do everything in their power to stop this Bill.