Monday, 20 February 2012

Eton Mess NHS!

The NHS Bill is in a mess. It did not have electoral legitimacy. Anyone remember “No top down restructuring,” from David ‘Pants on Fire’ Cameron? Anyone read anything of these so-called reforms in the Coalition Agreement? Was anyone at one of the meetings that Lansley claims is where he told us what he was planning? 
The LibDems could have scuppered this abomination at birth. Unfortunately, as Shirley Williams revealed, Nick Clegg and his senior colleagues did not read it. Sad but true. They were ‘very busy’ governing and getting their feet under the table to actually think about something so important for so many people. Since that moment the LibDems, through their activists, have been playing catch-up. 
The Tories on the other hand had their eyes firmly fixed on the gravy train. They saw wads of cash winging their way from their chums in private healthcare. The game was given away early on when an advisor forgot that there is a telegraph cable in place across the Atlantic. Mark Britnell, who was appointed to a "kitchen cabinet" advising the prime minister on reforming the NHS, told a conference of executives (in the US) from the private sector that future reforms would show "no mercy" to the NHS and offer a "big opportunity" to the for-profit sector.” And so it has come to pass. 
“In essence, what we are left with are the ambitious plans for the expansion of privately run provision, masterminded it seems by the management consultancy McKinsey, many of whose corporate clients will now bid for work inside the NHS. McKinsey is said to have earned nearly £14m from the government since the election, but this is a drop in the ocean compared with the business that private health organisations working with McKinsey now expect to gain.” Jackie Ashley, Guardian 20/2/12
But there is a BUT and it is a big one. The Bill is in such a mess with over 130 amendments about to be discussed in the Lords; support from grassroots tories hemorrhaging and the LibDems having screaming abdabs; that Cameron is stuck between a very hard rock and and a very tough place. 
Option one: to plough on regardless and bash the reforms though. Everything that goes wrong in the NHS (and there will be lots) will be blamed on the Tories and their wealthy sleazy chums. Chances of success slight. Chance of electoral disaster massive. 
Option two: to abandon the Bill. Sack Lansley and bring in a much watered down affair. Massive problems with this. Huge loss of face for Cameron (which matters to him) and looking incompetent. Cue Labour MPs, “You don’t know what you’re doing....” Another problem is that much preparation is already in place or underway. [How can this be? It has not been passed by Parliament yet people are behaving as though it has. Surely this is illegal?] Abandoning the Bill will incur costs at a time when the NHS is supposed to be saving £20bn.
The Tories are having an awayday on Friday when this issue will be high on the agenda. Backbench Tory MPs are getting many messages from the public, half urging them to drop the Bill, the other half urging them to dig in.
Sod the Tories! They will do what they always do and follow the money.
Attack the Liberals! They are in the box seat. They walk away from supporting this fiasco - and it dies.
Contact your Liberal MP/Councillor/Parish Councillor/Activist - and bend their ears.
Labour want the bill to go through but seriously damaged so they can clobber the Tories with it at the election in three years. In the meantime there will be much damage done and what is put in place will not be readily removed - after all, it was the government of Blair who let private health slide under the door.

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