Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”

Shirley Williams still has "huge concerns" over the coalition's NHS reforms, and says ministers have been "bewitched" by the "flawed" US healthcare system.

Shirley Williams still has “huge concerns” over the coalition’s NHS reforms, and says ministers have been “bewitched” by the “flawed” US healthcare system. Writing in tomorrow’s Observer, Baroness Williams expresses fresh doubts over the revised Health and Social Care Bill and raises a number of issues she says must be addressed.

She writes:

“Despite the great efforts made by Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow, the Lib Dem health minister, I still have huge concerns about the Bill. The battle is far from over…

“The remarkable vision of the 1945 Attlee government, of a public service free at the point of need for all the people of England, should not be allowed to die.”

One of her major doubts is whether the Secretary of State will still be legally bound to deliver “a comprehensive health service for the people of England, free at the point of need”.

She is also concerned about the expanding role of the private sector, and is worried about the way foundation trusts are being allowed to take on more private work.

Williams adds:

“I am not against a private element in the NHS, which may bring innovatory ideas and good practice, provided it is within the framework of a public service – complementary but not wrecking.

“But why have they tried to get away from the NHS as a public service, among the most efficient, least expensive and fairest anywhere in the world? Why have they been bewitched by a flawed US system which is unable to provide a universal service and is very expensive indeed?”

Back in February, Baroness Williams said she couldn’t support the NHS reforms as they were then, calling the scale of the reforms “too great” with “too many questions unanswered”. In a column in the Times (£), she questioned the cost of the reorganisation; the accountability of the new GP consortiums; the role of the private sector; and patient choice.

This weekend, as part of the “Big NHS Weekend”, thousands of health campaigners have been out across the country warning the public the NHS remains under threat, despite what they call the ‘superficial’ changes announced after the government’s recent ‘listening exercise’. Events took place across 60 local areas, ahead of the Bill’s return to Parliament this week.

The latest poll on the reforms, by GFK/NOP for the NHS Support Federation, shows only a third (33%) of those surveyed believe the Bill should be passed in its amended form, with nearly half (49%) wanting the Bill scrapped altogether.

Shadow health secretary John Healey said:

“The Tory-led Health Bill is a massive threat to the NHS that we know and love. With the plans about to come back before Parliament, we’re calling on people to join our national campaign to stop David Cameron’s government from destroying our NHS…

“Nobody should be fooled by the superficial changes that David Cameron announced after his so-called listening exercise. He’s already pushing our NHS to breaking point, and this wasteful reorganisation is simply a recipe for chaos.”

With UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis warning:

“Our health service is under siege. If anyone thinks that the NHS is safe in the Coalition’s hands – they better think again. The Health and Social Care Bill is a Trojan horse bringing in private health companies to take over our health service. In Tory-ward, money talks and if patients don’t have the cash they will find themselves waiting at the end of a very long queue.”

And Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary, insisting:

“We cannot allow the privatisation of the NHS. The coalition promised an NHS safe in their hands. They lied. More than 50,000 jobs will go and waiting times are up. With this bill, profit-grabbing private healthcare companies will have carte blanche to dismantle the NHS street by street.

“The promise of universal access at the point of need for all, regardless of the ability to pay will be crushed.”

To join in the campaigns to save the NHS:

• Sign 38 Degrees’s petition calling on the government not to break up the health service and “hand it to private healthcare companies”, to “listen to the real experts”, not to “rush through massive changes”, and “protect patient care”;

Email Lib Dem MPs ahead a meeting of a crunch meeting of the Parliamentary party on Monday, via UNISON;

• Join the TUC’s “online vigil for the NHS”, adding your face to the mosaic, “to show Parliamentarians the level of concern around the country about the threats to our National Health Service”.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

50 Responses to “Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system””

  1. Chris Evans

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US syste: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  2. Sam hussain

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US syste: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  3. Political Planet

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: Shirley Williams still has "huge concerns" over … http://t.co/3iG5f9k

  4. Kim Blake

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US syste: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  5. Bill Cawley

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US syste: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  6. Jono Read

    @normanlamb Baroness Williams is completely right – http://t.co/jMDMldh #savethenhs

  7. Hannah Lownsbrough

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  8. Health Care

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: Shirley Williams still has “huge concerns” over … http://t.co/5lIvSVY

  9. Michael

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/mwQg0Uj

  10. Live News Updates

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Left Foot Forward http://t.co/dTjF7uZ #nhs

  11. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/zJoQXKY #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  12. Pathichira

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Left Foot Forward: BBC NewsBaroness Williams: C… http://t.co/zmIlITm

  13. Tom Littleford

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  14. Free Money

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: “The remarkable vision of the 1945 Attlee govern… http://t.co/2nWTjqG

  15. Motm8

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/2DSuGtW

  16. HealthCare Industry

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: Writing in tomorrow's Observer, Baroness William… http://t.co/ka5llBw

  17. :::

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  18. Brummie Protestor

    RT @NHSLive Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Left Foot Forward http://t.co/xoHPx9H #nhs

  19. Robert CP

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  20. DJE

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/mwQg0Uj

  21. w.m o'mara

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  22. Alex Smith

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  23. Dave Madden

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  24. Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” « Carer Watch's Blog

    […] Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” | Left Foot Forward Share this:PrintMoreEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  25. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system: http://t.co/FtEbRGf by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS

  26. Richard Hansen

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  27. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/3YH4OT7

  28. Natasha Yusufzai

    http://t.co/bpiLDzy Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Left Foot Forward

  29. Roberto Gibbs

    http://t.co/vB6XmgA Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Left Foot Forward

  30. paulstpancras

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US < #health > system” http://t.co/uxXdB6p #NHS

  31. Watching You

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  32. Alice Hayes

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: Shirley Williams still has “huge concerns” over … http://t.co/364arNZ

  33. Julia O'Dwyer

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/VPr6H3b

  34. robert the crip

    If this was pre 1997 I’d be shouting yes come on Labour, but now I think this is more about Labour or Newer Labour looking for a battle ground. It does not have much to argue with the Tories because most of what the Tories are doing labour would have done anyway.

    But for Labour to now argue about the sell off of the NHS because New labour is dead is a bit rich from a leader who under Browns leadership went out to sell off chunks of the NHS through the back door.

    This is labour looking for a battle ground a niche to try and get the Liberals to join up with Labour and again break up the coalition, nobody I suspect in the real world believes labour really gives a dam about the NHS.

    Miliband was part of new labour his voting record is not that of a lefty that’s for sure, and this idea Labour is some how different from Blair lots is a laugh.

    I suspect we will see more and more of the NHS sold off and I suspect a lot will be to the Americans, and I do not give a toss who is in power the Right wing labour party or the right wing Tories, it will happen.

  35. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘This is labour looking for a battle ground a niche to try and get the Liberals to join up with Labour and again break up the coalition, nobody I suspect in the real world believes labour really gives a dam about the NHS.’

    Spot on.

  36. Huseyin Kishi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/2pVmoVL

  37. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/zwvL7vH

  38. Leon Wolfson

    If you define “real world” as “I’m right wing and I’m always right”, yes

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

    […] morning, Shirley Williams became the latest Liberal Democrat to hit out at the newly revised health reforms Bill, expressing “huge concerns” and describing […]

  40. li

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/hUsIBBa

  41. Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” | Left Foot Forward | Jane Young, Disability Consultant

    […] Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” | Left Foot Forward. […]

  42. Henry Jones

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  43. Theo

    Don’t mess with Shirley!

  44. Cookie Monster

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  45. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” http://t.co/H4Ena2K

  46. Marie J

    Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system”: http://t.co/iIOVipk by @ShamikDas #NHS #SaveOurNHS #BigNHSWeekend

  47. Losing the plot: How the Lords rubbished the NHS bill – then voted for it anyway | Left Foot Forward

    […] Baroness Williams: Coalition “bewitched by a flawed US system” – Shamik Das, September 3rd 2011 Share | Permalink | Leave a comment Comments […]

  48. Jim Matthew Fallon

    At this critical juncture in your colourful career, Shirley, you are faced with only one option certain to unstain your record from the tragic taints left from the disgraceful misconceptions of Dr. Death and His Gang of 4 (anyone can make a mistake)… With one bound you can return to the glories of Harold Wilson’s Circular 10/65 wherein you piloted in Comprehensive Education and rid us of the grammar school swamp…
    Announce a Coalition of the Committed set to prevent an american anti-health disservice of shopkeepers and gamblers and set to unite sincere people of all Politcal Parties and None… There is nothing so momentous in the present dismal landscape… Get Up! Shirley…Turn this Wheel!

  49. Nigelwootton421

    There are deep insights here into Baroness William’s passionate beliefs to defend the NHS, here. She, co-founder of the Liberal Democrat party is now the key figure in whose hands the future of the NHS hinges, and says: “Despite the great efforts made by Nick Clegg and Paul Burstow, the Lib Dem health minister, I still have huge concerns about the Bill. The battle is far from over…The remarkable vision of the 1945 Attlee government, of a public service free at the point of need for all the people of England, should not be allowed to die.”
    Clearly, the Health Secretary’s legal obligation to deliver “a comprehensive health service for the people of England, free at the point of need” must always remain sacrosanct. The ongoing break up of the NHS into a myriad of disparate healthcare profiteers also deeply concerns Baroness Williams. She recognises that Lansley’s bill is the sanction of wholesale privatisation and destruction of the NHS, where everyone will have to take out highly expensive private medical insurance which profits out of sickness, while not keeping people in the best of health by the most cost effective means.
    Baroness Williams has signed Nick Clegg’s re-write of Lansley’s bill, about which Lansley is unconcerned at the moment and sees as no threat to his privatisation agenda. By March 19th 2012, Lansley intends his bill to be made law. We will keep an eye on the news to see what Baroness Williams decides next; she may support the Lib-dem activists’ bid to Drop the Bill.

Leave a Reply