Tag Archives: NHS

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 …

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged | 22 Comments

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

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

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 …

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

    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

    Opinion: Lib Dems should support the NHS reforms to secure its long-term future

    Listen to the Labour spin, the media furore, or the special interests in the healthcare unions, and you’d think that the Health and Social Care Bill had been crafted by the evil Tories and naive Lib Dems to maliciously snatch all hope of critically needed health and hospital care from the poor and vulnerable, dooming great swathes of the population to lives of miserable illness and suffering, all to help the ‘rich and profiteering’ private healthcare companies milk every last penny and drop of human decency out of society.

    Left leaning voters are angry – indeed opinion polls show that a

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 126 Comments

    NHS bill: Nick Clegg outlines changes aimed at Lib Dems

    BBC News reports:

    Nick Clegg has set out changes to the NHS reforms which he says should mean the bill can be passed into law.

    In a letter co-signed by Lib Dem peer Baroness Williams, the deputy prime minister sets out amendments he wants to see which would limit competition and the role of the private sector.

    Downing Street said they were “not significant amendments – they are areas where reassurance is required”.

    …Mr Clegg said he supported five “final” changes to the bill which aims to give GPs control of much of the NHS budget and would open up the health service

    Posted in News | Also tagged | 40 Comments

    Opinion: Where was Nick Clegg’s summit on the NHS?

    Much of the recent column space on Health issues has been filled with criticism or scepticism of the summit that David Cameron held in Downing Street, and more specifically Andrew Lansley’s Health & Social Care Bill.

    The sceptics say that Cameron only invited ‘Yes people’ – people who would confirm his own world view of NHS reform, and who would be nice about Mr Lansley.

    As usual, I ain’t bovvered about the Conservatives and what they do to attract media criticism. The more the better as far as I am concerned. What concerns me is what the Liberal Democrat leadership has been …

    Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

    Baroness Barker writes… How the private patient income cap can benefit the NHS

    Labour’s 2006 NHS Act deliberately opened up health services, including acute hospitals, to wide-ranging competition on price, not quality. Labour’s legislation allowed private companies to receive £250m for contracts which they never delivered. Liberal Democrat peers are working hard to ensure that the NHS, including Foundation Trusts (FTs), remain public services.

    Indeed, in order to protect them from the full force of competition law and the threat of takeover by American healthcare companies, hospitals must not be deemed ‘undertakings’ or look more like private sector bodies. One way to achieve that is to make it explicit in law that the majority …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments

    LDVideo: Lib Dem MP Andrew George calls for NHS risk register publication

    Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George voted on Wednesday to publish the NHS “risk register”, a document containing a detailed analysis of what could go wrong with the proposed changes in the health service in England. Here he explains why, and that though the Health Bill is now “less bad” he is yet to be persuaded it should go through:

    Posted in YouTube | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

    Lord Clement-Jones writes… Plugging the loopholes left by Labour

    Widespread competition was introduced to the NHS by Labour’s 2006 National Health Service Act, but without the public debate that is now taking place. The 2006 Act opened up the NHS to the risk of EU competition law being applied in a way that leaves commissioners unable to choose the best way of delivering services. Labour’s legislation meant private providers were favoured over NHS hospitals and paid millions for work which they never did. Very simply, Labour’s 2006 Act does not put patients first.

    In the Lords, myself and colleagues are working hard to plug the loopholes left in Labour’s 2006 …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

    LibLink: Mark Pack – Where next for the Lib Dems on NHS reform?

    Over on the MHP Communications blog, Lib Dem Voice’s Mark Pack has been pondering what will happen next on NHS reform:

    It is becoming a fixture on the political calendar, that as spring approaches so too does another Liberal Democrat conference debate on health.  Cue headaches for Liberal Democrat party managers and nervousness among Conservatives.  What will the Liberal Democrat grassroots demand? How much will Cameron and Lansley be prepared to concede in response?…

    At the moment, there are three different options for changes to the NHS Bill which different Liberal Democrats are pushing (I’ve yet to encountered anyone in the party

    Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

    Opinion: Liberal Democrat, not Yes Minister, values must prevail on Risk Register

    Back in 2010 we campaigned on a vision of open government and “new politics”. The debacle over the NHS Strategic Risk Register shows how far we have strayed from this policy objective and also how hit and miss the Coalition’s political management has become.

    The Risk Register issue is just one in a very long line of political blunders in the life of the Health and Social Care Bill. This time the Government is still trying to oppose public opinion, the Information Commissioner and now a Labour motion in the Commons, causing far more political upheaval than necessary. Whatever the actual …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 6 Comments

    80% of Lib Dem voters want Lansley’s risk register published

    Liberal Democrat voters are most keen to want the Government to publish the Department of Health Risk Register. A new YouGov poll commissioned by Progressive Polling and Unite shows that two thirds of voters (68%) believe the Government should honour the ruling of the Information Commissioner.

    Liberal Democrat voters are the most keen to see this act of transparency, with 80% backing such a move. 73% of Labour supporters want to see its publication as do 62% of Conservative voters. All ages, social grades and regions support its release.

    The Information Commissioner’s ruling in November for publication was followed by remarks …

    Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 12 Comments

    Health and Social Care Bill: a letter from Ed Milliband

    A copy of Ed Miliband’s letter to members of the House of Lords has fallen into the hands of Liberal Democrat Voice. This is what he has to say…

    Dear Member of the House of Lords

    I am taking the unusual step of writing to you and all your fellow peers to share my very great fear for the future of the NHS. I know you are aware that the decisions you have to make over the next few weeks on the Health and Social Care Bill are of huge significance to the NHS and to the country. I can think of …

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 42 Comments

    Shirley Williams: how to sort out the NHS Bill mess

    Earlier today I blogged about the odd and dangerous political situation the Liberal Democrats risk being left in – more in favour of the NHS Bill than large parts of the Conservative Party:

    Arguing that you are the smaller party in a coalition and have achieved some important changes to a piece of legislation that has come from another party’s Secretary of State is one thing. But then ending up being keener on seeing the Bill go through than much of the Secretary of State’s own party? That’s skirting with political disaster.

    Shortly afterwards (though I’m sure not as a result!), Shirley Williams took to The Guardian website to offer an escape route, both for the substantive policy issues and the politics of it:

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

    LDV Caption Competition: Clegg, Cam & Lansley “You can hear the white coats flapping” Edition

    There’s no prize at stake – just the opportunity to prove you’re wittier than any other LDV reader…

    Here’s David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley rolling up their sleeves over the NHS reforms — what do you think might be being said or thought by or about them?

    And the winner of our last caption comp is…

    Some fantastic entries for our most recent caption competition, Ed Davey “I’ve got Energy” Edition.

    Posted in Caption Comp | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

    LibLink: what to look out for at Lib Dem Spring Conference

    The Voice’s Mark Pack has a post over at Total Politics, discussing the issues likely to dominate the upcoming Lib Dem Spring Conference in Gateshead.

    The first thing to note, says Mark, is that some of the most contentious political issues of recent weeks such as the reforms to the NHS and to the welfare system don’t appear on the conference agenda as it was drawn up some time ago:

    There is a slot for emergency and topical issues to cover this eventuality, but with only time for one motion, not all of the controversies can be aired. Unless a

    Posted in Conference and LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | Leave a comment

    Opinion: Lib Dem MPs must vote against the health reforms – not for health, but for democracy

    Lately, we have heard much about Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms of the NHS, both from within the party and without.

    Grassroots site ‘Conservative Home’ writer Tim Montgomerie came out in opposition to the bill, calling it ‘unnecessary and unpopular’. Lansley’s supporters have been less professional in their counter-briefing.

    Lib Dems on all sides are throwing their all in to the debate about the biggest shake up to our health service in decades. I’ve found it difficult to have an opinion on either side – so as the debate has flamed around me, i’ve noticed a trend that I find very

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

    Senior Tories voice growing concern over NHS reforms, calling for ‘unnecessary and unpopular’ Bill to be scrapped

    The Health and Social Care Bill has long been criticised by doctors, nurses, many Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. To the list of those concerned about the impact of Andrew Lansley’s reforms can be added senior Tory figures including Tim Montgomerie, editor of ConservativeHome blog, and several members of the Cabinet.

    According Tim’s editorial this morning, following on from a Times article earlier in the week (£), Conservative Cabinet Ministers are sufficiently concerned over how the reforms were being handled to press for the contentious components to be dropped and for only those elements that retain cross-party …

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 30 Comments

    Opinion – NHS Reforms: It is not too late to pull back from the edge

    If the Party is still licking its wounds and reeling from the catastrophic loss of public support over student tuition fees and the kicking received in the May 2011 local elections, then please be in no doubt, that the punishment it will receive from the electorate for its perceived co-operation in, and reluctant endorsement of, the demise of a much loved and unified national health service, will be on another planet entirely! And that will be despite the valiant efforts and guerrilla warfare carried out by our Peers led notably by Shirley Williams and others.

    Essential to Cameron’s election campaign was …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

    £1.5 billion needed to sort out Labour’s PFI mess

    The Guardian reports:

    Seven hospital trusts struggling with crippling private finance initiative debts are to receive £1.5bn in emergency funding from the government to help them avoid cutting patient services to pay their bills.

    The Department of Health is making the £1.5bn available – in grants, not loans – to the seven hospital trusts in England with some of the heaviest PFI debts through a “stability” fund. Trusts will be able to use the money to meet PFI repayments, rather than their usual budgets, as long as they meet four conditions set out by the department.

    The move will help trusts such

    Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

    Shirley Williams’ campaign against NHS reforms wins new concessions from Lansley

    Here’s how The Guardian reports today’s news that the Coalition will offer further concessions to the NHS reform bill in an attempt to head off a revolt in the House of Lords led by Lib Dem peer Baroness Williams:

    … ministers will table a series of amendments to the health and social care bill that will oblige Andrew Lansley to maintain the NHS as a national public service and, his critics say, limit his ambitions to expand the role of the private sector. The changes will also spell out the kind of services that must be offered by GPs and

    Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

    Opinion: We have let neoliberals devastate state education, we must not let them do the same to the NHS

    To believe the Government’s hype, we are currently experiencing a liberal revolution in England’s education system – powers are being decentralised, with schools given more autonomy to innovate, while new education providers are adding further diversity to the state funded system by joining it through Academy sponsorship.

    The uninitiated could be forgiven for believing Michael Gove’s claim that the evidence base shows the structure of the state funded school system is holding education back, as well as his recent assertion that opponents of Academies are “ideologues”, who uphold a “bigoted backward bankrupt ideology of a leftwing establishment that perpetuates division …

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 67 Comments

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