Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms

Andrew Lansley’s misguided NHS reforms that the Health and Social Care Bill look set to be recommitted to Parliament, writes Dr Prateek Buch of the Social Liberal Forum.

Much to the chagrin, no doubt, of the Conservative 1922 Committee, those “yellow bastards” – also known as their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats – look to have delivered such significant alterations to Andrew Lansley’s misguided NHS reforms that the Health and Social Care Bill looks set to be recommitted to Parliament.


Nick Clegg gave a strong speech to UCH yesterday that once again echoed the substantial changes his party called for in Sheffield, indicating afterwards that the resultant legislation would differ sufficiently from the original to require renewed parliamentary scrutiny.

Yesterday’s developments may result in the first such recomittal for a decade.

Also yesterday, it was revealed that shadow health secretary John Healey, who tabled a motion requesting the bill be re-sent to Committee, plans to publish Labour’s specific objections to the bill, joining the Lib Dems in doing so.

Given the significant changes to the bill Clegg gave a preview of, there will undoubtedly be speculation relating to Andrew Lansley’s future as well – but the fallout from the changes look like going further than that, with backbench Tory MPs setting out their ‘red lines’ which they insist on retaining.

Sending the bill back for more scrutiny is of course a welcome move as it rightly gives parliament and the medical profession further time to get the reforms right. Should all of the required changes be made – strengthening democratic accountability; retaining commissioning as a transparent and public function; ensuring competition isn’t expanded at the cost of patient care; and softening the pace of change – the bill itself will emerge much improved.

But what about the NHS in the meantime; what happens to the sweeping changes already taking place across the country?

Clegg insisted in his speech:

“We aren’t going to just sweep away tiers of NHS management overnight.”

Yet I’ve met several Primary Care Trust staff who have recently been laid off with the expectation of being hired soon by emerging GP-led consortia. My father, a GP in inner city Salford, is one of hundreds of primary care physicians eagerly awaiting the resolution of the political wrangling over the reforms.

The uncertainty created by a prolonged process – necessary though that is – will surely add to the opportunity cost of implementing the Bill’s reforms.

Some of the changes Clegg set out yesterday are in direct conflict with the Tories’ leaked red lines – not least their apparent insistence on a rigid timetable for introducing GP commissioning across the country without exception, and the role of Monitor as a competition watchdog in a healthcare market.

If these really are red lines for the Tories, it shows their dogmatic adherence to the marketisation of the NHS, and puts into strong relief the battles yet to be won before the reforms are acceptable.

We may well look back at Clegg’s speech yesterday, calling yet again for substantial changes to the bill, as a turning point – not just for the reforms but for the coalition. What matters from here on in is that the personnel running the NHS, the doctors and nurses delivering world class care, are given clear guidance as to where the process goes from here.

11 Responses to “Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms”

  1. Dan Thompson

    Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms: http://bit.ly/kXf9vz writes @PrateekBuch

  2. Michael J Shepherd

    Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms: http://bit.ly/kXf9vz writes @PrateekBuch

  3. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms: http://bit.ly/kXf9vz writes @PrateekBuch via @UKactivist

  4. anyleftiwonder

    This is the only way Clegg and Co can go someway to saving themselves, just looking to save their skins.Funny how they changed their minds after results from local elections and AV.

  5. Trevor Cheeseman

    Opposition to the Bill from any source is welcome.

    However, Nick Clegg’s signature is at the front of the Coalition’s NHS White Paper alongside Andrew Lansley and David Cameron. He then voted twice in the Commons in favour of the Bill. This is the man who in a newspaper interview (in 2005) said:”I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service”, advocating insurance-based models used in Europe.

    Nick Clegg has actively supported a free market as the policy solution for universities, so some of us are still doubtful about what he really believes is right for the NHS.

  6. DAVID ROBERT WARREN

    RT @leftfootfwd: Lib Dems *will* deliver significant changes to NHS reforms http://t.co/WsSlZIy

  7. Gareth Epps

    Trevor Cheeseman – for whatever you say, Nick Clegg’s stance on the NHS Bill has since March been firmly guided by the overwhelming view of his party, so what you say isn’t relevant to the Bill.

  8. mr. Sensible

    The government is at absolute sixes and sevens with this bill. Clegg saying 1 thing, Lansleysaying another.

    What a mess.

  9. David Knowles

    The bill will never get through the parliament, not in it current forms, and not with the rebellious Lib Dem lords who seem intent to make a stand against Cam and CLegg. The maths in Parliament are not on the Tories side, even some Tories MPs have come out against this bill.

    In the end this bill be so watered down that most PCTs and GPs will wait it out until and knew government comes in and will hope it one that will reverse the bill. An for these reforms to succeed in its central aim a substantial amount of PCTs staff were never going to get rehired in the first place, they cant be to meet the cost saving plans that this bill is suppose to introduce.

  10. David Knowles

    The bill will never get through the parliament, not in it current form, and not with the rebellious Lib Dem lords, who seem intent on making a stand against Cam and Clegg. The maths in Parliament are not on the Tories side, even some Tories MPs have come out against this bill, more for the sake of there seats rather than being against the principles of the bill, but I am not overly bothered why they vote down this bill as long as they do.

    In the end this bill will be so watered down that most PCTs and GPs will ride it out and hope a new government comes in after the next election and reverse the changes in bill.

    For these reforms to succeed in its central aim, a substantial amount of PCTs staff were never going to get rehired, they cant be, if the NHS was ever going to meet the cost saving plans that this bill is suppose to introduce.

  11. robert

    I’ve had a letter saying an NHS dentist will be taking over in my town from next month and I’m on the list.

    Not Labour but a Tory government, all we had from Labour was we are working on it for 15 years they worked on it.the Tories are in power for one year and I’m back on a a list. makes you think

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