Tag Archives: NHS

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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The Independent View: Selling our NHS data is not putting us in control of our health records

Back in 2010 there was a wave of optimism amongst civil liberties campaigners, especially those of us concerned with protecting privacy from an over-bearing database state. Not only did the coalition agreement set out a promise to scrap ID cards and its associated population register, there were other promises too: “We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason” and then on page 25 of the coalition agreement the statement that “We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records”.

In our briefing document ‘Privacy Under Threat’ …

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Don Foster MP writes… It’s time we talked about toilets!

Here in the UK, a toilet is a necessity that we are lucky enough to take for granted – a subject for humour, or something we’d prefer not to talk about.

Yet for billions of people around the world, sanitation is a serious issue. With a staggering 2.6 billion – nearly 40% of the world’s population – living without basic, safe sanitation, it’s time we talked about toilets. It’s a shocking fact that diarrhoea, caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, is the biggest killer of children under five in Africa. In fact, globally it kills more children every year …

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Norman Lamb MP writes: Why we need to keep an open mind on Hinchingbrooke

Last week’s announcement that the management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital would be transferred to Circle Healthcare was always going to be controversial – a hospital with debts approaching £40million, whose situation had become so perilous that it had to be rescued by an external provider. Both Labour and Unison quickly exclaimed against this as ‘privatisation,’ despite the fact that the Labour Government had initiated the tendering process.

Circle is a 49% employee-owned organisation, different from the traditional private company. It makes them a part-mutual organisation run in the same manner as John Lewis. Put simply, they are part-owned and part-run …

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Chris Rennard writes… How to keep people with diabetes out of hospital

On Tuesday, I helped to launch a report ‘Keeping People with Diabetes out of Hospital‘. As a person with diabetes, I know only too well the pressure that our diabetes care services are under.

Whether I’m speaking to my Diabetes Specialist Nurse, to my consultant, or to my colleagues in Westminster, it is clear that the ‘diabetes epidemic’ is increasingly being recognised as of major concern. Of the 2.9 million people in the UK living with diabetes, a worrying proportion will suffer additional complications and will require hospital care. In the last year alone, another 130,000 people have been …

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A trio of Tory / Liberal Democrat disagreements in government

Like London buses, Tory / Liberal Democrat disagreements are coming along all bunched together at the moment:

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has criticised “climate sceptics” and others who he argues are decrying the UK’s potential for renewable power … His comments are being interpreted by some as a riposte to Chancellor George Osborne who is believed to be more sceptical about the investment needed. (BBC)

Vince Cable rejects proposal to abolish unfair dismissal laws: Business secretary said plan devised by strategist Steve Hilton was unnecessary and unlikely to improve labour market flexibility (The Guardian)

In order to safeguard the NHS, free at

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LibLink: Paul Tyler – The Lords are listening, but not to rent-a-mob email campaigns

Over on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Lib Dem peer Lord (Paul) Tyler has a piece on the (not particularly successful) campaign by 38-Degrees to lobby members of the House of Lords over health reform.

Here’s a sample:

As a peer who received many 38 Degrees-inspired communications in the runup to the debate over the NHS bill, I can say with some confidence that their lack of influence was strongly linked to the unduly polarising approach they took to this issue. They picked the wrong battle, and the wrong argument.

Their battle was essentially on whether to

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In other news…

On the NHS:

Liberal Democrats may win a key concession on the controversial Health and Social Bill before the legislation is passed, PoliticsHome has learned.

Sources have indicated that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, including key rebel Baroness Williams, have struck a deal which would allow Lib Dem peers currently opposed to the legislation to secure changes to the role of the Health Secretary. They are currently concerned that the Bill will mean the Secretary of State is not responsible for ensuring that patients across the country receive the same services and standards of care.

PoliticsHome understands that the responsibility of the Health

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Baroness Liz Barker writes… The Health and Social Care Bill in the Lords

I have spent my entire working life in the field of health and social care. For many years I worked for Age Concern and for all my time in the Lords I have been a member of the Health and Social Care team. I am, and always will be, a passionate supporter of an NHS which is free at the point of need and open to all regardless of their ability to pay.

Although the Health and Social Care Bill only came to the Lords this week I have been working on it for several months along with Liberal Democrat colleagues, including …

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Personal Demographics Service: Department of Health

I’ve blogged before about some of the security issues around the NHS’s Personal Demographics Service – a mammoth database with 80,000,000 personal records in it, yet with 700,000 people granted access to it – and with such limited auditing systems that experts have concluded it is “incredibly difficult if not impossible” to detect or trace misuse of the data.

So it was good to see Julian Huppert take up with issue with a Parliamentary question, asking the Department of Health what assessments it has made of how adequate the safeguards in the PDS really are at preventing illegal access to …

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Opinion: If the cap doesn’t fit, don’t wear it

The NHS Emergency Motion which was not debated at Conference in Birmingham had a clause that stated the cap on Private Patient Income (PPI) by NHS Foundation trusts should be retained. Shirley Williams has since stated that this is one of four main aspects of the bill which she will be trying to change in the House of Lords.

But Lib Dem peers would be wrong to press for retention of the cap. Even for those who want to preserve a strongly public sector provided NHS the retention of the Private Patient Income (PPI) cap makes no sense.

The cap limits the …

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Lib Dem Voice survey shows members narrowly oppose Coalition’s NHS reforms

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’re currently publishing the full results.

Lib Dem members vote 43% to 37% against Coalition’s NHS reforms

LDV asked: The Health and Social Care Bill which will implement radical reforms to the NHS was passed on 6 September. The Bill was changed significantly to reflect Lib Dem policy proposals passed at the Spring conference. Critics say the changes do not go far enough to address concerns that the Bill will lead to creeping privatisation of the NHS. The Bill’s supporters say that the reforms will introduce more patient choice and improve healthcare. From what you have read or heard about these plans, do you support or oppose the Bill overall?

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Andrew George MP writes… The NHS Bill is putting our health service at risk

Liberal Democrats can reasonably claim to have been the architects and cheerleaders of the NHS. However, we now run the risk of being cast as the office juniors and apologists for the architects of its demise.

I used these words when I addressed the Spring Conference in Sheffield this year; during the debate which soundly castigated the Government’s controversial Health & Social Care Bill and which precipitated the unprecedented ‘pause’.

Though the media didn’t give us credit, two thirds of ‘unfettered’ (by Ministerial or other office) Liberal Democrat MPs rebelled in last week’s debate and votes on the Bill.

In spite of the …

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