Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms

Experts, doctors and commentators have today turned against David Cameron's plans to dismantle the NHS leaving cheerleading to The Sun newspaper.

Experts, doctors and commentators have today turned against David Cameron’s plans to dismantle the NHS leaving cheerleading to The Sun newspaper.


The cross-party Health Select Committee, chaired by former Tory Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, issues its report on Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms today. The report notes:

“The Coalition Programme anticipated an evolution of existing institutions; the White Paper announced significant institutional upheaval. The Committee does not believe that this change of policy has yet been sufficiently explained.”

In a letter to The Times (£), 275 doctors set out their concerns and outline that the proposals are opposed by “the great majority of doctors”:

“As doctors we believe the Health Bill represents an irreversible step towards the dismantling and privatisation of large parts of the NHS. The Health Secretary is already implementing its proposals even though the Bill is not yet law. MPs and Peers must use this opportunity to avert a disastrous experiment with the nation’s healthcare…

“The wholesale re-engineering of the NHS and the destruction of primary care trusts (PCTs) is very expensive and totally unnecessary.”

The commentariat is equally scathing. Rachel Sylvester of The Times (£) questions whether the Prime Minister really is – as he claimed yesterday – the heir to Blair on health reform:

“Mr Cameron is keen to position the reforms as the fulfilment of Tony Blair’s agenda … but the NHS reforms go in the opposite direction. Mr Blair came to the view that the key was to give more choice to patients: people can now decide whether to have their operation in a state-run or private hospital. Mr Lansley has decided that all the power should be handed instead to GPs.”

In a Financial Times op ed (£) titled ‘NHS reform could become PM’s poll tax”, the Financial Times, Philip Stephens sets out that “Mr Cameron has somehow got both the public policy and the politics badly wrong”. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian says that the reforms will “blow apart the unified NHS as a service and turn it into a purchasing agency” while the Independent’s Steve Richards sets out why the policy is as much David Cameron’s as Andrew Lansley’s and argues that “the policy marks the end of the NHS”. He goes on to warn:

“Mr Cameron did not put his proposals to the electorate last May. Instead he promised there would be no more big reorganisations of the NHS, insisting that there had been enough of those. He must have known he was planning the biggest reorganisation in the institution’s history, so the lack of candour highlights the degree to which Mr Cameron is committed to his NHS crusade. He was willing to risk being exposed as duplicitous in order to win power and then press ahead.”

Turning back to the legalese, the lack of a mandate is also noted by the Select Committee:

“The Committee was surprised by the change of approach between the Coalition Programme and the White Paper. The White Paper proposes a disruptive reorganisation of the institutional structure of the NHS which was subject to little prior discussion and not foreshadowed in the Coalition Programme.”

The cheerleading is left to The Sun who praise Cameron’s “bravery” and the ever loyal Telegraph who despite admitting that the reforms are a “gamble” claims that they will deliver a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a more efficient and responsive NHS”.

35 Responses to “Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms”

  1. Ma

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  2. Hannah Lister

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  3. Stuart Sorensen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  4. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  5. Watching You

    I said this was coming RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  6. Adam Young

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  7. Gateshead GreenParty

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  8. andy

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  9. howardferron

    Yeap. In fact, did you know that Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents’ plan once they reach 19. Companies cannot do that any more. Search onilne for “Wise Health Insurance” and you can insure your kids if you are in the same boat.

  10. zahra

    It is the FT who has got “both the public policy and the politics badly wrong” – the WHOLE agenda, as Polly sums it up so eloquently, is to ““blow apart the unified NHS as a service and turn it into a purchasing agency.” Welcome to “Hollow Government” where our taxes all go to the hands of private providers.

  11. fizz

    RT @NHSspy: I said this was coming RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu report …

  12. Labour Uncut

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  13. drkmj

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  14. Jin Shei

    RT @DrKMJ: RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  15. Éoin Clarke

    Good article Will. The basic problem opponents have is that the ordinary Joe Schmoe doesn’t fully understand the impications. I have tried to synopsise them {below}

    Once you establish the Principal that the NHS does not have the expertise to treat certain patients for certain illness, you start a drip feed. You lose specialist doctors to private medical companies. Medical innovation takes place in the private domain, and if the privateers have any sense, it stays in the private domain. The NHS stops employing, building, innovating, and improving. Instead it begins writing cheques, smallish ones at first, to private businesses. Apparently this will accelerate innovation, as well as improve choice and success ratios at treatments. But if one accepts any of this logic, then they are in effect acquiescing to the marketisation of the NHS. At first this will be an internal market, but after a period of a few years, it will be almost impossible to reverse the trends on lessening personnel, the trend of declining specialisms, the trends of faceless companies selling you products at their price that are essential to the health of your patients. The NHS will basically resemble a cattle market for financiers to pick their animal, cart it off, treat it, and cash their prize. It took me a long time to get any of this, and I think that was Lansley’s intention.

  16. paulstpancras

    Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms | Left Foot Forward
    //bit.ly/dLkWbe

  17. TeresaMary

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  18. Uncle Herba

    Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms | Left … //bit.ly/eaz0mu

  19. Bernard and Paul

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  20. Roger B

    Former Tory Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, issues HSC report on Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms today. //j.mp/hipdFR

  21. Dana Iyer

    Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms | Left … //bit.ly/eaz0mu

  22. Health Care

    Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms | Left …: Experts, doctors and commentators have toda… //bit.ly/eaz0mu

  23. Nick H.

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  24. Anon E Mouse

    Eoin – When this policy was introduced by the Labour government (In 2004 private hospitals were paid £100m from the NHS for 60,000 patients as part of efforts to cut waiting times) I’m sure not one of those people treated would have complained about being treated in a private hospital. Quite the reverse I feel.

    It’s all very well people jumping up and down about the NHS until they experience the dire aspects of it’s totally incompetent management.

    There are more managers than doctors and nurses – I don’t care what a few grumbling thick medical professionals, too stupid to implement new ideas, think. Ignore them. This government rightly will.

    The NHS is a crumbling mess – the increases of money by the last government weren’t matched by increases in efficiency and it needs sorting soonest. It is a disgraceful waste of other peoples money to continue as it is.

    Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys or any other country would go bust if they operated as badly as the NHS. Appointments for operations can’t be made by email in 2011 for goodness sake – despite £billions being spent on IT. Someone needs to be sacked.

    This country now has a radical government and if Labour doesn’t buck it’s ideas up, start admitting where it went wrong and getting with the program it will be consigned to opposition for a long while yet. Blair should have had some balls and got on with it…

  25. payamtorabi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  26. Simon Landau

    @Anon reminds me of Colonel Blimp. In his world everyone is incompetent and so nothing changes in his view. His prescription then becomes “what we need is a pointless sacrifice.” In the case of the NHS it is too important to peoples lives to discuss it in troll terms. If he wants a revolution fine, let him go out on the streets. If he wants change managed to ensure improvement then he must take the practitioners with him. It is on that charge that the government is bang to rights.

  27. Budget cuts are deeper than Cameron would have you believe | Left Foot Forward

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  28. Anon E Mouse

    Simon Landau – I have personal experience of this just this week. Partner goes private (Healthcare via Unison) is seen and treated within 6 days.

    Business partner (both roughly the same age) has waited since June last year on the NHS and is due in on Friday but that isn’t guaranteed and the hoops that she had to jump through you wouldn’t believe.

    In your world Simon it appears you care nothing for the people treated under the current system or you would want better cancer outcomes – why not tell me if you think those treated under Labours farming out to private companies care where the operations were carried out?

    You display the typical dogma of some socialist super state type wish and why wouldn’t you want things to improve for patients?

    If these practitioners don’t like it tell them to work somewhere else. Either get with the program or move on but with GP’s on £113K a year a doubt they will.

    Try coming up with something constructive Simon Landau. You do Labour no favours…

  29. Trevor Cheeseman

    For the all the moaners on the right, including ministers who love to subtly rubbish the health service in their speeches, the fact is satisfaction with the NHS is at an all time high.

    The government’s British Social Attitudes survey reported recently that in 1997, only a third of people (34%) were satisfied with the NHS. Yet by 2009, satisfaction had nearly doubled, and stood at two thirds (64%).

    The politics of all this will be interesting however: with no support amongst NHS staff groups at this early stage, the Coalition now faces several years drip feed of bad news – cuts, service restrictions, wider regional variations, bed closures, hospital mergers and growing private sector influence. “I’ll cut the deficit,not the NHS” will come back to haunt DC.

  30. Alan W

    @Anon – “I don’t care what a few grumbling thick medical professionals, too stupid to implement new ideas, think. Ignore them.”

    Yes, medical professionals are notably stupid people, aren’t they?

    I mean back in school you always knew it’d be the classroom dunce, who couldn’t tie his shoelaces till he was fifteen, who’d wind up as a consultant oncologist. And is there really anything a brain surgeon does that a well-trained monkey couldn’t handle?

    Yes, the government really will be showing great wisdom by ignoring the views of such intellectually limited people.

  31. Anon E Mouse

    Alan W – I hear so much moaning and groaning about GP this and GP that as if they do not have the ability to make the changes the government require.

    They are supposed to be the cream of our society and it isn’t about the whining I have problems with, it’s the fact that they are just resisting change and it is costing the public in efficiency terms.

    These GP’s basically are left leaning and feel they need to carp on about the government and despite all the doom and gloom stuff from the Labour Party, what has actually happened so far?

    No double dip recession is a prime example. After the election in May last, we actually had Labour PM’s who were arguing that we shouldn’t pay off our debts quickly because of blah blah – well they were wrong and if one pauses for a second it is obvious why.

    To continue accruing a debt interest of £120 million per day makes no economic sense.

    To continuing running the NHS the way it is being run makes no medical sense.

    The NHS should have been changed under Labour with the best Prime Minister the party ever had, Tony Blair. He had the majority needed but didn’t have the balls – so it’s down to the coalition.

    The left don’t like the fact they are now led by Ed Miliband which they knows means no government for them until he’s long gone. It’s over guys. Labour lost the election. Get over it….

  32. Daniel Pitt

    RT @leftfootfwd: Experts, doctors and commentators turn on health reforms //bit.ly/ifJebu reports @wdjstraw

  33. Lord Owen turns on coalition health plans | Left Foot Forward

    […] former leader of the SDP, the precursor of the Liberal Democrats, joins a chorus of experts, doctors, and commentators who have this week attacked the coalition’s plans for the NHS. At the weekend, Lib Dem deputy […]

  34. Safe in Cameron’s hands? Waiting times for treatments, tests, and A&E all up | Left Foot Forward

    […] So given all the doubts, the worries and the figures, can David Cameron really be trusted on the NHS? Is the NHS “safe in his hands”? And what lies behind his government’s constant undermining, unnecessary, costly reorganisation and flawed, widely opposed reforms? […]

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