“The confusion over the Government's plans for the NHS is, to put it at its most moderate, surprising. This is a matter not just of ideology but of competence.
The Prime Minister seems to have assumed, despite the evidence over many years, that Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, knew what he was doing. When Mr Lansley succeeded in uniting doctors, nurses, public opinion and most Liberal Democrats against his reforms, No 10 seems to have assumed that he needed to communicate the changes better.
It is certainly the case that the communication of the policy has been lamentable. Mr Lansley's main message has been that GP- commissioning was promised in the Tory and Liberal Democrat manifestos, and in their coalition agreement. That claim lacks a basis in fact, to put it politely. (my emphasis) The Tory manifesto spoke of giving GPs the power to commission care, rather than requiring them to do so, and the coalition document was similarly permissive. The Lib Dem manifesto was silent on the issue. The coalition agreement also promises that primary care trusts (PCTs) "will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs". The Bill dispenses with the trusts altogether.
As David Owen argues today, Mr Lansley has no mandate for his reform. That is why Nick Clegg felt emboldened to seek changes to the policy; what the changes are precisely we will find out soon. (The main business in private seems to have been a struggle over the extent to which Mr Clegg will take credit for saving the day.) In many ways, however, it is already too late. Our willingness to give the Government the benefit of the doubt has been forfeited. We do not know how the reorganisation of the NHS was supposed to work, and suspect that Mr Lansley does not either.” Independent on Sunday 3/4/11
We know that Mr Lansley is not to be trusted. His justification for promoting these wholesale changes to the NHS without telling the electorate was that he ‘mentioned them in a few meetings.’ This is unsupportable and those greedy GPs who have already jumped in thinking of the wodges of cash they will make should think again. We want Doctors - not accountants, business managers or financiers.
Lansley is another of the current crop of politicians who seek to line their pockets with another income while working as an MP. They have great difficulty understanding the lot of the great mass of the British people as it is beyond their ken. It does not stop Lansley and his cronies trying to remodel the NHS on American lines.
Just like Patricia Hewitt, when she stepped down as Secretary of State for Health, Lansley will have his eye on a plum job with a private medicine company when his dirty deeds are done.