Tag Archives: NHS

Norman Lamb MP writes… Integrating Care – Joined up thinking in the NHS

Many of you will have seen last week the headlines following comments by David Prior, the Chairman of the CQC, about the unsustainable pressure on Accident and Emergency wards in the UK. The truth is that patients are getting excellent care in A&E departments up and down the country. The NHS is coping well with the increase in demand. But there is no denying that there has been a big increase in demand on our emergency services. There is no easy fix to this situation, especially at a time when the NHS needs to make limited resources go further. But …

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Opinion: Why Greg Mulholland MP is wrong to criticise the NHS Medical Director

When I heard yesterday that the local MP had called for the NHS Medical Director to resign following his decision to suspend all paediatric heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary I dismissed it as predictable populist rabble rousing in search of a good local headline. On realising it was our own Greg Mulholland I felt angry and ashamed. How could one of our MPs have got this so wrong? Or as Stephen Thornton, the Chief Executive of the Health Foundation put it last night, “How low will local MPs stoop? Why does ‘local’ always trump quality in their eyes”. Quite.

In …

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Norman Lamb, Newsnight and Jeremy Paxman’s bedpan

Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb wrote about the Government’s response to the Francis Report for this site yesterday. Later he was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. Paxman started by asking how long it would take before the NHS is fit for purpose.

Norman replied:

We have to recognise that a lot of fantastic work goes on in the NHS

Most people who work in health and care do so because they want to care for people

We shouldn’t denigrate NHS because of what’s happened in this one report, but anyone who cares passionately about the NHS has to face up the

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Norman Lamb writes … Culture change – the foundations

How do you change the culture of an organisation – particularly one as large as the NHS? That was one of the key questions posed by the Francis Inquiry into the appalling failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospital. Today we set out part of the answer.

The overriding message of the Francis report was the need for a culture change across the NHS to make sure that patients always come first. That change will take time, leadership, and engagement from staff. But the measures announced today set the tone, and signal what I hope will be the start of a transformation. They …

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On Budget day: What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition’s economic policy and ring-fencing of spending

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 650 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

George Osborne with Red Box, Budget 2012

Just 26% of Lib Dem members support Osborne’s ‘Plan A’

Thinking of the current state of the economy and the Coalition’s approach, which of the following statements is closest to your own view?

    20% – Cutting the deficit isn’t enough: alongside public spending cuts, the Coalition should be

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Opinion: People don’t care who provides their healthcare

nhs sign lrgThe publication of a new poll by ICM for Civitas on the NHS should give encouragement to those in the Lib Dems who believe that we should not be bound by a single provider approach to the NHS.  The poll shows that people are proud of the NHS but not concerned by who provides their healthcare.

The key question is:

“It shouldn’t matter whether hospitals or surgeries are run by the government, not-for-profit organisations or the private sector, provided that everyone including the least well-off has access to care”.

83% o agreed with …

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The Independent View: The case for ending unfair, out of date prescription charges for people with long term conditions

We are now just over two years away from the next general election and political parties are starting to develop their manifestos.

In this age of austerity, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s team has already identified “alarm clock Britain” as a key demographic in need of help – these are the basic rate taxpayers who get up early, take their children to school and then go to work only to find their living standards squeezed by current economic circumstances. If Liberal Democrats are indeed committed to helping this section of the population, they need look no further than delivering reform on …

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Opinion: Where is evidence based decision making about the NHS?

One of the great things about growing old is that life becomes much simpler. Those raging passions of youth give way, very gradually, to an acceptance that, in the grand scheme of things, we are pretty insignificant. Imagine my surprise when I found my blood pressure rising and my normally equitable mood being replaced by a growing sense of outrage. What exceptional event caused this? Well, it was the  Health and Social Care Act, 2012.

I am not sentimental about the NHS, or any other public body for that matter, and believe that we should constantly be trying to improve our …

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Opinion: Our NHS – the good, the bad and the ugly

nhs sign lrgIt is a week since Robert Francis’s report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust exposed massive failures in the NHS, from top to bottom.

The silence from the political left is deafening. Of course there has been the usual horror and condemnation, and calls for heads to roll. But this wasn’t just a case of lax professional standards, which can be sorted out with a bit of culture training, it was complete system failure from cleaner up to Prime Minister.

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Norman Lamb writes: Tackling gun and knife crime – hospitals and police working together

nhs sign lrgTrying to make different departments work effectively with each other is a challenge that all Governments face, and this one is no different. It could be all too easy for objectives that fall between two departments to end up falling through the cracks.

That is why I am pleased to report on the efforts we are taking in the Department of Health to roll out the ‘Cardiff model’. This is a very simple measure that can have a dramatic impact on knife crime in an area.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto included …

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Opinion: Where do we now stand regarding mental health provision in the NHS?

nhs sign lrgMany people are clearly still very angry at, what they perceive to be, Liberal Democrats waving through Conservative plans to fragment and privatise the NHS – despite it not being in the Coalition Agreement – and believe that, within that, mental health treatment in the NHS will inevitably suffer.

I do not think that anybody who reads these pages will believe that the party can regain every vote which we have lost because of the NHS Bill.

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Opinion: Mental health provision in the NHS – share your experiences

After having written previous articles about delegate Sarah Yong’s motion on under provision in mental health, my own experiences with mental health, and the recent statements by Ed Miliband regarding Labour’s policy on mental health,  I want to add a final footnote to the series.

It is clear from comments on this website that Liberal

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That NHS spending row in full

The story: Conservative Health secretary Jeremy Hunt ‘rebuked’ for claiming the Coalition has increased NHS spending in England.

The promise: that the NHS budget in England would be increased in real terms during the Coalition. That promise was kept (just) — the 2010 Spending Review committed the Coalition to a 0.1% real-terms annual increase.

The reality: the NHS did not spend all its budget in 2011/12. As a result, the out-turn in NHS spending has, probably, marginally fallen since 2009/10. Though the UK Statistics Authority concludes: “Given …

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Opinion: Can Labour be trusted on mental health?

In my last two articles for Liberal Democrat Voice I wrote about the current under provision in mental health treatment in the country and why it is important that properly addressing mental health is brought into the political mainstream.

Thankfully in recent weeks this has started to happen. Of course there was Ed Miliband’s speech to the Royal College of Psychiatrists in which he spoke of the need for improved provision in mental health treatments across the country. Many people will of course welcome this state of affairs and it is encouraging if Miliband is intending to put improved …

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Labour health policy descends into mess on first day of conference

At a Q&A session, Labour leader Ed Miliband said:

I think what would be not sensible is for us to come along and say, ‘well, Andrew Lansley, now Jeremy Hunt, they’re changing all the arrangements, have these new clinical commissioning groups and so on, and we’re just going to reverse it all back and spend another £3bn on another top-down bureaucratic organisation.

So Labour wouldn’t just reverse all the Health and Social Care Act changes? That would mean quietly forgetting some of the rhetoric about how the passage of the Act would kill the NHS, but it’s easy to see why …

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Opinion: No economic case for regional pay

The clamour against regional pay received renewed vigour yesterday as 25 Liberal Democrat backbenchers endorsed a paper calling for the government to scrap any plans to link public sector pay to private sector earnings across the UK. The paper prepared in the office of John Pugh MP, analyses the evidence submitted to the Treasury and Office of Manpower Economics and concludes that there is no economic case for introducing regional pay.

The government has considered the introduction of regional pay in light of concerns that public sector pay premiums across the UK are ‘crowding-out’ the private sector. However statistics show that the private sector is not struggling to recruit staff, as vacancies in the public sector go unfilled for longer and a survey of business leaders shows that the majority have not struggled to compete with public sector wages.

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David Heath MP writes… Freedom of Information and the NHS risk register – we should publish as much as possible

It was 12 years ago that I sat on my very first House of Commons bill committee, and a pretty important bill it was too. We were considering what was to become the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and I was helping Bob McLennan try to stiffen up what was in danger of becoming, in the hands of the last government, an increasingly flaccid piece of legislation.

After decades of campaigning, the 2000 Act was certainly a longtime in coming for Liberal Democrats. It was Clement Freud who first introduced a Private Members Bill in 1978 that attracted considerable support, …

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Labour’s not-so-very-local election broadcast shows how unimportant local decision-making is to Ed Miliband’s party

Tonight’s Labour local election broadcast, starring telly’s very own Lord (Robert) Winston, climaxes with the rallying cry:

On Thursday May 3rd, vote NHS, vote Labour

Exactly how voting Labour then will help the NHS isn’t explored — not surprisingly, because it won’t. There’s a reason these elections are called local elections, after all.

Before highlighting Labour’s misleading tactics I thought I should first check out the Lib Dem record on fighting local elections. I have to say I was expecting to find comparable examples, times when the party leadership had called …

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What Lib Dem bloggers have been saying about the NHS Bill after Lib Dem conference

Unsurprisingly, there’s been plenty of post-conference reaction to the weekend’s events.

A quick recap of what happened: on Saturday, Lib Dem conference representatives narrowly voted not to debate a motion that called for the NHS Bill to be dropped. Then on Sunday, Lib Dem conference representatives narrowly voted following a debate not to support part of a motion that called for Lib Dem peers to back the NHS Bill.

Here’s how Lib Dem bloggers have responded to these events:

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Round-up of initial reactions to the Lib Dem conference NHS Bill vote

There’s been no shortage of reaction to the vote by the Lib Dem conference this morning to vote by 317-270 to approve an amendment which implicitly calls on the party leadership to drop its support for the NHS Bill.

I say “implicitly” because the motion as passed — pasted at the foot of this post — does not call on Lib Dems to ‘Kill the Bill’. However, conference did vote (albeit narrowly) to remove the call for Lib Dem peers to support the Bill. This follows yesterday’s pre-debate conference vote (again narrowly) to choose not to debate the motion which would …

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Health Bill debate at conference: live blog

Welcome to our live blog. Updates added at the foot.

No, the packed hall isn’t here to see my questions to the reports of the Parliamentary Parties (shocking, I know). It’s people filling up the hall early ahead of the big debate of conference: the NHS.

First up, moving the motion is Judith Jolly: “No one thinks this bill is perfect … but it is a hugely better, safer bill because of Lib Dems”. Shirley Williams is presumably waiting in the wings to make the last speech of the debate. She goes on to detail many of the doors opened to privatisation …

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Lib Dem spring conference: a quick guide to the highlights

The traditional pre-conference rally at Liberal Democrat conferences seems more lively and informal than the main set piece speeches during conference, so expect even more football references than usual from Party President Tim Farron this evening when he speaks in Gateshead.

Nick Clegg’s speech rally speech will feature an attempt to set a different message for the party, looking much more positively to the future:

We’re in Government, and it is a better Government for it. Fairer, freer and greener.

Lower taxes for working people. Fairer chances for our children. And the beginnings of a new, green economy that benefits everyone in

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John Pugh MP writes … TINA and NHS Choices

Mrs Thatcher was reputed to declare in more than one context that There Is No Alternative – earning herself the sobriquet of TINA . In life that is rarely the case and as an avowed existentialist I am disinclined to believe that is ever the case.

The party will be told that there is no practical alternative to the Lansley Bill. That could be true. I have no doubt that the Bill has been substantially changed and improved as a result of the listening exercise and amendment in the Lords.

It is, however, still a massive set of changes to the NHS and a continuation …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged | 1 Comment

A letter from Andy Burnham to Liberal Democrat members

I never expected to see the day when I could say, hand on heart, that I was more interested in events at a Lib Dem Spring Conference than the weekend’s football. But life’s full of surprises and that moment has arrived.

It is no over-statement to say that this weekend’s gathering in Gateshead could determine the future of our country’s best-loved institution.

As you prepare for the weekend, I wanted to make a direct appeal to the grassroots members of your party: please stand out against the current direction of reform and stand up for the NHS model we all have been …

Posted in Conference, Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 62 Comments

What Lib Dem members think about the NHS Bill: 57% opposed, but majority might back it if significantly amended

We’ve been surveying the views of current Lib Dem members this week on your views on the NHS Bill. Over 500 responded, and here’s what you told us…

  • A majority of Lib Dem members – and a majority of Lib Dem members who will be voting delegates at the party’s spring conference at NewcastleGateshead this weekend – oppose the Coalition Government’s NHS reforms as they currently stand. By 57% to 32%, Lib Dem members reject the Health & Social Care Bill.
  • However, that does not automatically mean the Lib Dem conference will vote to ‘Kill the Bill’ if
  • Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 18 Comments

    Opinion: Why the Leader’s letter hardened our Health Bill motion

    For a year a group of Liberal Democrats who know something about the NHS and the delivery of healthcare have been working to modify Lansley’s Health Bill with the aim of preventing irreversible damage to the NHS.

    Until last week our draft motion still offered the hope of amending the Bill. When we saw Nick’s letter we realised that there was no point.

    On preventing competition by price the letter is doubly misleading. David Nicholson warned about this in January 2011 and the Government conceded the point in February. However, even now competition on price has not been completely prevented. Government Peers …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 48 Comments

    Shirley Williams sets the record straight on NHS reform

    It has been suggested by one of our readers that we give a higher profile to a speech made in the House of Lords on Tuesday, especially in light of the ongoing debate on these pages. And so, without further ado…

    Baroness Williams of Crosby

    I want to say a word about competition, and it is appropriate to do so given that the noble Lord, Lord Warner, has just been speaking. He has always spoken with some courage on this issue, which I recognise is not exactly popular with his party. However, I say quite directly that I feel very strongly that …

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    Lord Clement-Jones writes… Limiting competition in the NHS

    This week Liberal Democrat peers achieved yet more success in limiting the application of competition in the National Health Service. Our party members believe, and our conference policy passed last spring affirms, that while competition can play a role in improving the quality of health, it should never be given higher priority than the interests of patients. And I completely agree.

    Competition Commission

    I was concerned that the Competition Commission should not be reviewing how effectively competition is working in the health service. In the private sector, the Competition Commission plays a crucial role in ensuring that companies compete fairly, and prevents …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

    Opinion: Save the NHS Bill

    I must admit I’ve been wondering a little at being so contrarian.

    My mobile phone address book and filofax (yes, I’m a certain age) is full of people who say they are too busy to talk to me this week because they are working hard to kill the NHS Bill.

    I am not. What’s the matter with me?  I’m going the right way to being thrown out of the lunatic fringe.

    So please, if you read this blog. Have a heart. Tell me where I’m going wrong.

    Here’s my problem. I cannot see why we should be striving to maintain the NHS exactly as …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 28 Comments

    The Independent View: Do us all a favour and drop the NHS Bill

    About 2 weeks ago, Shirley Williams rightly claimed that the whole competition chapter of the Bill would need to be removed before it could be passed. However, the amendments that Nick Clegg has proposed, as indicated in his letter of 28th February, just do not match up to her reasonable demand. The competition chapter contains clauses 70 to 81. The Clegg amendments only affect clauses 78, 79 and 80. So, clauses 70 to 77 remain unchanged. Hence, a lot of the Lansley ‘nasties’ remain and if the Bill is passed, these ‘nasties’ will become law of our land.

    Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 40 Comments



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      All this discussion of the Labour Party could only take place in a Scottish context. Are we really on the same side as these thuggish...
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      My main observation is good if Labour goes down the plug in Scotland come to think of it in England as well. I personaly think...
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      @Malcolm Blount It seems to have escaped your attention that the UK Government regulated and regulates UK banks.
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      So Gordon Brown becomes Scottish Labour leader as an MP and Alex sets his sights on a Westminster seat. All of a sudden it seems...
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      @Callum Leslie "People without a practical understanding of Scottish politics may see this as good – however the SNP surge taking seats off Labour may...