How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges

David Cameron's NHS pledges reveal coalition insecurities. Some have already been compromised and others represent the antithesis of Lansley's reforms.

"What do you think of him? He doesn

Having waited 10 months, and the wrong side of a white paper, to appoint a No 10 policy specialist (pdf), David Cameron’s No 10 health adviser must be working overtime.

In yet another speech on the NHS, Cameron today offered “five guarantees” attempting to show the prime minister is committed to the NHS, and that “he is hearing what is being said” during his listening exercise.

The five pledges are: to keep waiting lists low, maintain spending, not to privatise the NHS, to keep care integrated and to remain committed to the “national” part of the health service.

They are interesting, as they reveal coalition insecurities. The pledge on waiting lists is already vulnerable as quarterly data demonstrates; “the broad trend since June [2010] is upwards,” comments the Kings Fund think tank.

A combination of a tight settlement and inflation means pledge two, on spending, is already compromised, as previously highlighted by the OBR.

Pledge three reflects real concern, not least about image. Just weeks ago the Department of Health was on the verge of releasing official guidance on “any willing provider”: the opportunity for charitable and private sector providers to be licensed to provide a range of current NHS services.

A chorus of disapproval from NHS staff about the risks of fragmentation has postponed this, for a while at least. “Integrated care” as a phase is woolly, but it appears Cameron partly sees it as about hospital staff as well as GPs leading commissioning. Commitment to the “national” in NHS, is perhaps most surprising, since it represents the antithesis of the thrust of Lansley’s NHS vision, with a previous lack of embarrassment about a postcode lottery.

The speech therefore, is significant. As the Telegraph comments:

“Such is the concern in Downing Street at the damage the issue of NHS reform is causing the government, that Cameron will put his reputation on the line with a personal pledge to protect its core values.”

Moreover, a report (pdf) from Lord Ashcroft on potential Tory voters, following private polling, confirms this view:

“Many [potential Tory voters]in our research believed the NHS was subject to cuts, though the government maintains its budget is being protected and increased. Most people were sceptical of the proposed reforms, and those who had noticed that some health professionals opposed them tended to take the same view.

“Nobody seemed to know is why the reforms were needed and how, even in theory, they were supposed to improve things for patients.”

Cameron’s latest remarks show a significant change of tone from his showpiece public services reform speech, just 12 weeks ago. There he proclaimed that “we are injecting competition, saying to the private sector, community organisations, social enterprises and charities: come in and deliver great public services”.

In terms of politics, some commentators are already highlighting this as “the biggest failure to win the battle for public opinion on public policy“ since the poll-tax.

So what does Cameron really believe when it comes to the NHS? It is hard to say with any certainty.  Christopher Hitchens’ commentary on the PM seems particularly apposite: “He seems content-free to me. Never had a job, except in PR, and it shows.”

34 Responses to “How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges”

  1. 0iD

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman

  2. Mabel Horrocks

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman

  3. Jill Hayward

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman

  4. Crimson Crip

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman

  5. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman #NewsClub

  6. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://t.co/RLADO9V #falseeconomy

  7. Lambeth NUT

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://t.co/RLADO9V #falseeconomy

  8. Save The NHS

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  9. UNISON - the union

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  10. Shez

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  11. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://t.co/aQanxiY

  12. Ziggy Stardust

    RT @unisontweets: RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his #NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  13. Max Bell

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://t.co/aQanxiY

  14. Claire Butler

    RT @FalseEcon RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://t.co/RLADO9V #falseeconomy

  15. Selohesra

    So Dave has never had a job except in PR – what real jobs has Ed M had?

  16. Jamie Reed

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://bit.ly/mH859Z writes Trevor Cheeseman

  17. Miles Weaver

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Selohesra – Cameron did indeed work unlike the tax avoiding multi millionaire property owner.

    Miliband didn’t even have a paper round and went from university to “work” for Harriet Harman.

    I realise the countess toff Harman can work miracles herself. She did after all parachute her husband, the union dinosaur Jack Dromey, into a safe Labour seat – straight through the “all woman” shortlist but even she cannot bypass the fact Miliband represents no one in this country and as long as he remains Labour leader they will remain in opposition…

  19. Bruno Bear

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges: http://t.co/RLADO9V #falseeconomy

  20. Aaaaargh!

    Recently had a very bad experience of the NHS (http://aaaaargh.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/no-ageism-in-the-nhs/) but this isn’t the result of the cuts the coalition are proposing, it goes back to incompetence of past Governments of all shades to put politics aside and work toward a better service.

  21. Selohesra

    Its very quiet on this site today – is it signing-on day or something? – It was much more fun yesterday

  22. Anon E Mouse

    Selohesra – It does seem quiet.

    Perhaps it’s a rehearsal for the Labour Party conference (assuming they’ve not gone bust by then…)

  23. Roger McKenzie

    RT @unisontweets: RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  24. Ross Haffenden

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  25. Ceehaitch

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://t.co/aQanxiY

  26. Michael

    How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges l Left Foot Forward – http://bit.ly/j9PPSa

  27. NHS reforms live blog | Rubytall News

    […] Foot Forward, some may squiffyly suggest in a predictable manner, has the PM touting his five pledges on health after “the biggest failure to win the battle for public opinion on […]

  28. NHS reforms live blog | moregoodstuff.info

    […] Foot Forward, some may squiffyly suggest in a predictable manner, has the PM touting his five pledges on health after “the biggest failure to win the battle for public opinion on […]

  29. Staffordshire UNISON

    RT @unisontweets: RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  30. Leics Right To Work

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://bit.ly/m2yjlV

  31. Clive Burgess

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://t.co/aCz5gpP

  32. Jackie

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges http://t.co/aU0PWvD

  33. Tory voters trust BMA and co. over Cameron and Lansley on the NHS | Left Foot Forward

    […] How Cameron is already undermining his NHS pledges – Trevor Cheeseman, June 7th […]

Leave a Reply