The Health and Social Care Bill is back in the news and back in public debate.
This week’s newsnight raised some interesting issues that have been circulating in the debate this week, not least, questions over the identity of the 3 Cabinet members who raised strong criticism of the bill. (See Conservative Home website.) The issue is becoming political: Will Lansley go? Who would take over? Will this explode the chances of the Conservatives in the next election? Pictures such as this (from the Conservatives) which show Cameron sitting on a stick on dynamite, labelled ‘NHS’ are sending out a clear message.
Better late than never, Ed Miliband earlier this week called for a cross-party campaign backed by professionals and the public saying that we have 3 months to save the NHS. For this to be truly effective Labour need to put forward some solid positive alternatives of how they would make savings in the NHS and how they would improve it. We do need reform but in a meaningful way and not a ‘reform’ put forward that is riddled with problems and is receiving increasing criticism from all sides. Reform should be focused on ideas from health professionals and people within the NHS, supported by the public.
This week a YouGov poll shows only 18% of the public support the Bill. and 49% think that increasing competition will not improve outcomes for the NHS.
As such, by asserting that the Bill had huge support from all sides, Health Minister, Simon Burns, needed no help in undermining his arguments and sounding ridiculous. It is clear this Bill is not the right one. The public, professionals and Cabinet members know that the Bill is riddled with huge problems and will have disasterous outcomes.
One of the arguments pro-Bill is that ‘it would be too late to turn back now as it would do more damage.’ There are two questions that come to mind here:
Firstly why has it started already? We should not have gone down any route to turn back from until the Bill has been passed into law. We are currently writing letters to John Bercow raising this very point. Practical changes to the NHS are being made without the legal backing.
Secondly, it is most certainly not too late to change the course of action as the consequences of going through with the Bill will be much much worse than turning back. This argument, of ‘saving face’ does not justify going ahead with the Bill.