Tag Archives: NHS

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 …

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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

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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

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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 …

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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 …

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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:

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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 …

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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

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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 …

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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 …

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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:

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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.

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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

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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

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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 …

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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 …

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£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

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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

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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 …

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PMQs: The importance of Doncaster, almost to the exclusion of everything else

At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, David Cameron and Ed Miliband first clashed on the subject of economic growth (or, indeed, contraction). That entanglement was, more or less, a score draw. But Ed Miliband was much stronger during a later exchange on the NHS reform bill, culminating with this belter:

I shall tell the Prime Minister what is happening in the NHS: waiting lists up, morale down. What does the majority-Conservative Select Committee on Health say about his reorganisation? It says that it will be a “disruption and distraction that hinders the ability of organisations to” release savings.

Let us be frank: this

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Opinion: Before the debate – What’s the evidence?

The relaunch of the Beveridge group featured in Lib Dem Voice on 10th January, said that it hoped to generate debate amongst Liberal Democrats about how public services are best delivered.

Liberals in general are clear that public services should be democratically accountable at the lowest possible level. Where there is far less agreement is the role of choice, competition and the private and voluntary sector in provision of these services – particularly in relation to health and education. Inevitably many people’s reactions are heavily influenced by their own personal experience as a service user, public service employee or indeed …

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Andrew George writes… A veil of initiatives

The Iron Lady cast a steely shadow over the Westminster village last week.

Memories of Baroness Thatcher’s reign of heavy metal terror still strike fear in those who inhabited the place in the days when she would mercilessly handbag anyone who dared to cross her path.

Last week, of course, her major Hollywood biopic was released. Fearing unfavourable comparisons, the PM appears to have gone into manic overdrive; launching an overlapping series of popular-sounding and eye-catching initiatives.

Having spotted that City fat cats are still awarding themselves performance-related perks, which bear no relation to their performance, the PM has become quite cross. …

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Will Lansley’s NHS reforms make episodes like the PIP implant scandal more common?

Such is the argument deployed by the editor of the UK’s leading medical journal, Richard Horton, in analysing the implications of both the recent breast implant scare and the Health and Social Care Bill for the NHS.

Horton acknowledges that the specific case of PIP, and the industrial-grade silicone they appear to have used in breast implants, represents clear regulatory failures at the hands of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  The Health and Social Care Bill has very little to say about how the way in which medical devices are regulated and any changes to the …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Time to Care: patients not paperwork

Being a nurse is a tough job, and we all admire those who have a calling to care for others. But when a loved one is sick in hospital we quite understandably worry and want the best for them.

One of the most important tasks of government is to ensure that good standards of hospital care are maintained wherever people live and whatever their needs. To make progress on this key issue we must free-up nurses from red tape and allow them to carry out the work they’re trained to do.

As a Liberal Democrat health minister I have seen and heard …

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Tim Farron’s Christmas message

Well that was quite a year, wasn’t it? It was a good one too!

I know, I know, after the referendum and the horrible results in May you’d be forgiven for believing we were sinking faster than Blackburn Rovers (how it pains me to write that), but you know what, it’s not true.

This year we did some amazing things, things you and I have wanted to do for years but never had the power to actually get done.

For one, we put an end to the horrific practice of locking up innocent kids behind bars for months on end in immigration …

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Julian Huppert MP writes: promoting innovative science and technology, safeguarding NHS data for research

Science and research are absolutely key to our economy, both now and in the future. That’s why I and others have been pressing the Coalition Government to protect the £4.6 billion revenue budget for science and research programs. And we’ve managed more; since January, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has announced £495 million of investment in capital projects to maximize our research capacity.

This funding is extremely welcome. But it is how this money is spent – not just how many millions are pumped into the economy – which will determine whether the economy recovers and whether we will be …

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Paul Burstow MP writes… A Future-proof Health Service

The Liberal Democrats have always recognised that if we want the best health service in the world, we must continue to innovate and invest.

That is why I want to highlight how new funding announced on Monday will ultimately support life-saving research and help to protect millions of vulnerable people living with long-term conditions at home.

I have long championed the benefits of telecare and telehealth (home-based alarm and monitoring devices), so I want to highlight the fact this high-tech equipment will now be accessible to another three million people over the next five years.

This week I met a care …

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Baroness Liz Barker writes: Liberal Democrat peers working to secure an NHS fit for the future

After five weeks of detailed, intensive scrutiny the House of Lords is about to start discussing Part 3 of the Health and Social Care Bill. This is the part which deals with the role of Monitor and EU competition law.

Building on the work of Nick Clegg in June this year following the listening exercise, Liberal Democrat peers are working hard to ensure that the legislation fully reflects our policy that competition should be strictly limited to those areas of commissioning and provision where there is evidence that it improves patient outcomes.

We will continue to argue that there should be nothing …

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