Saturday, 9 April 2011

NHS sell-off: lies, evasions and spin.

One of the worst things (among several) about the government’s plans for the NHS is the downright lies and evasion they have practiced to get to this point. The Coalition Agreement hammered out during those frenetic days in May makes no mention of any reorganisation. The only reference is the following: “The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments.”  Coalition Agreement document May 2010

It now emerges that the NHS has to make 20 billion pounds of cuts by 2015. Already we are seeing evidence of delaying tactics being applied to all non-urgent surgical procedures. This inevitably  increases the waiting time and suffering of people needing hip operations or cataract treatment. No mention of any of this before the election.

The Conservative Manifesto spelt out a few changes but nothing of the import and the impact of their actual proposals. They even denied any wish to undergo any massive reorganisation! “We are stopping the top-down reconfigurations of NHS services,(my emphases) imposed from Whitehall rather than led by the local NHS, family doctors and local communities.” Conservative Manifesto 2010
Having hit a great deal of opposition, the PR skills of Cameron and his crew have been called into play. The idea of a period of listening is classic PR. It sounds good. It will reassure a few but actually change very little. Like most PR it is all about spin. 
For the actuality, look at the way Lansley is behaving. If this ‘listening period’ is serious then an invitation to speak to the Royal College of Nurses next week would seem to be an excellent opportunity for a frank exchange of views. He is the first Secretary of State to turn down the chance to address the RCN in eight years. [Update: 9th April. Lansley will now attend following the hoo-ha about his initial decision not to go. Should be a lively session.]
Lansley and Cameron addressed the College before the General Election last year. But that was when they were keeping their powder dry on their actual plans for the NHS.
Clegg and the LibDems have been rightly pilloried for the student fees debacle. The lies, evasions and duplicity of the Tories over the NHS is their equivalent. 
Update number 2: 13th April. Craven wormtongue Lansley is attending the RCN conference today but will not risk addressing the delegates. Instead his spinners are putting it out that he is there 'to listen.' What bollocks. He will arrive just after the nurses hold a vote of no-confidence in him and his plans....will he hear what they say? 

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