Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey

Following today's decision by the Liberal Democrats to push for a re-write of the Government's NHS bill, John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on Left Foot Forward.

Following today’s decision by the Liberal Democrats to push for a re-write of the Government’s NHS bill, Labour shadow health secretary, John Healey MP, writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on Left Foot Forward.

I attended your Party’s debate in Sheffield today on the government’s NHS reorganisation. It would have surprised some to see me at a LibDem Conference but I was made to feel welcome, and I welcome also the outcome of the vote that followed the debate.

Your conference showed its understanding that there is next to nothing of Lib Dem health policy in David Cameron’s huge top-down internal reorganisation of the NHS in England. The Prime Minister is trying to force this onto people, despite promising NOT to do so in the Coalition Agreement, and despite increasing concern and criticism from patients’ groups, professional bodies and NHS experts.

By voting how it did, your conference has recognised Mr Cameron’s plans for the NHS as Conservative policy.

Your Party’s policy priorities before the election were to ensure that local people have more control over their health services. The Tory-led government meanwhile, wants to place sweeping powers with a new national QUANGO – the National Commissioning Board – and a national economic regulator charged with promoting and enforcing competition to open up all parts of the NHS to private health companies.

Your Party’s principled concern before the election was to strengthen local and public accountability of health services. However, the Health and Social Care Bill seriously restricts openness, scrutiny and accountability both to the public and to Parliament. It will lead to an NHS in which “commercial in confidence” will be stamped on many of the most important decisions.

The Conservative ideology towards full market competition at the heart of this legislation directly conflicts with your Party’s long and proud commitment to the ethos of essential public services. Doctors warn the plans will be “the end of the NHS as we currently know it”.

The reorganisation, which the NHS chief executive himself has described as “enormous – beyond anything that anybody from the public or private sector has witnessed” is piling on extra unnecessary pressure on the health service. It comes at a time when patients and staff are already seeing waiting lists grow and services cutback. Led by the BMA, organisations speaking for NHS staff say the scale, speed and cost of the changes are “extremely risky and potentially disastrous”.

The outcome of today’s vote shows LibDems recognise all of these concerns. I saw for myself what your delegates think of David Cameron’s plans. The big test now is for your leader Nick Clegg. It will be up to him to persuade the Prime Minister to change course and make fundamental changes to the planned legislation and reorganisation. If Mr Clegg fails to do so, I hope you as an ordinary LibDem member will make common cause with everyone else who wants to defend and protect the NHS.

Yours

John Healey MP
Labour Shadow Health Secretary

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42 Responses to “Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey”

  1. Claire French

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  2. James Doran

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  3. Joshuwahwah

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  4. Ian Parker

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  5. DisabledPeople

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  6. M Redivivus

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  7. AJM

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  8. WNH

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  9. Deborah Segalini

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  10. Matthew S. Dent

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  11. Kerry McCarthy

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  12. Joanne Kaye

    RT @leftfootfwd: Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey http://bit.ly/hZHIHZ

  13. Tom Littleford

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  14. Lee Chalmers

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  15. AbiliTV

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  16. Jane Phillips

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  17. Dick Smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  18. Cheadle Labour

    RT @leftfootfwd: Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey http://bit.ly/hZHIHZ

  19. Alex Chalmers

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  20. The Steel City

    Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey: I attended your Party's debate in Sheffield today on the govern… http://bit.ly/e1hbit

  21. alexsobel

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  22. Liz Kendall

    RT @leftfootfwd John Healey writes open letter to LibDems http://bit.ly/hZPzTU < hats off to Healey's hutzpah attending LibDem conference >

  23. Tim

    RT @leftfootfwd: Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey http://bit.ly/hZHIHZ

  24. Sian Davies

    RT @leicesterliz John Healey writes open letter to LibDems http://bit.ly/hZPzTU < hats off to Healey's hutzpah attending LibDem conference

  25. Sian Davies

    RT @leftfootfwd John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  26. Coalition Failure

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  27. Vijay Singh Riyait

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  28. Trakgalvis

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  29. bee hive

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  30. Tweeted Times Top

    Open letter to Lib Dem members from J…: http://bit.ly/godonu most discussed on @guardiannews/members-of-parliament (http://bit.ly/hQfwov)

  31. DrKMJ

    RT @leftfootfwd: John Healey writes an open letter to Lib Dem members exclusively on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/hZPzTU

  32. Sue Ackroyd

    Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey http://bit.ly/hZHIHZ It will be up to.. Nick Clegg..to persuade the PM to change course

  33. jacquilofthouse

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  34. pigreen

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  35. Hens4Freedom

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  36. Kerry Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Open letter to Lib Dem members from John Healey http://bit.ly/hZHIHZ

  37. Mr. Sensible

    It seems to me clear that the government’s NHS reform agenda is in a total mess.

  38. Ellie Gellard

    RT @Paul0Evans1: John Healey MP with an impressive move on the health row with the Lib-Dems http://bit.ly/gITjxf

  39. 1_little_cloud

    RT @BevaniteEllie: RT @Paul0Evans1: John Healey MP with an impressive move on the health row with the Lib-Dems http://bit.ly/gITjxf

  40. GordonL

    RT @BevaniteEllie: RT @Paul0Evans1: John Healey MP with an impressive move on the health row with the Lib-Dems http://bit.ly/gITjxf

  41. Geoffrey Payne

    In the normal course of events I understand it makes sense to refer to the “Tory led” government. But if you really want to be friendly towards the Lib Dems I recommend you use the word Coalition instead.
    The lesson from this is that although the Lib Dem Parliamentary leadership might appear to be right wing, and many Lib Dem bloggers as well, but at grassroots level of the Liberal Democrats there is an instinctive opposition to Tory policies.
    It is possible for left of centre pressure groups including trade unions to make alliances with the Lib Dem left, and because the party is democratic the leadership does not easily control what gets debated and passed at Lib Dem conference.
    However demonstrations against the “Con-Dems” will provoke an unsympathetic response in return.

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