Behind the Rhetoric
David Cameron said he was committed to the NHS. Ever keen to say what people wanted to hearhe promised to protect it – against top-down reorganisation, and from cuts. But the reality is verydifferent.When you peel away the rhetoric, the hidden truth is that David Cameron and his Tory-ledGovernment, supported all the way by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, are taking the NHSbackwards. They are subjecting it to unnecessary, ideological reforms which will take power awayfrom patients and which threaten standards of care.David Cameron promised to “stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in theway of patient care”. Less than two months into government he broke that promise, approvingAndrew Lansley’s plan for the NHS – the hidden reality of which is a wholesale top-downreorganisation of the NHS, including the handing over of commissioning budgets to new GPconsortia and the abolition of existing commissioning structures.This Health and Social Care Bill will bring about a massive bureaucratic re-organisation whichwon’t improve patient care.That would be bad enough. But it gets worse. David Cameron’s reorganisation isn’t just a waste ofmoney, and an unnecessary distraction to the NHS. It is a bad Bill, built on bad assumptions anddangerous ideology.David Cameron wants to keep hidden the truth of his Bill: It makes the NHS increasingly subject toUK and EU competition law, putting NHS services and commissioners at risk of legal challenge. Itputs NHS services at risk of going bust and closing in the face of private sector competition. Itweakens local accountability over service changes, meaning valued local services could be closedwithout warning.No wonder the public, patients, NHS staff and health experts are so worried about the plans. Eventhe Liberal Democrats, after happily signing the plans off in Cabinet and voting for them atSecond Reading, are starting to have second thoughts. But the so-called “listening exercise” theGovernment has promised is no more than a sham – the reality is the policy is carrying on as ifnothing had happened, and Andrew Lansley is himself refusing to address the Royal College ofNursing’s annual conference.Labour will keep challenging the Tory-led Government’s dangerous plans. It’s becomingincreasingly clear:
You can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS.