The Lib Dems have suddenly decided that they are against the wholesale disruption and privatisation of the NHS. Who would have thought that voting down electoral reform and putting 600 of their councillors out of their seats would lead them to become champions of our health service? All I can say is that the more we vote them out the more they listen, so carry on everyone.
Now Lib Dems have suddenly decided that the NHS reforms are evil and they will veto them if they aren’t completely changed. Cornwall MP Andrew George has even demanded that the bill is withdrawn altogether. Funny that the Lib Dems all voted it through when the vote came up in the House of Commons. In Bristol we have our own health expert Cllr Jon Rogers executive member for tribalism. Here is his analysis of the health reforms published last year when Lib Dem policy was to break up the NHS. To be fair I have reproduced this in full.
Opinion: NHS reform on right track
By Jon Rogers | Published 17th December 2010 – 2:55 pm
I am a GP and Executive Member for Care and Health on Bristol City Council. I have been a GP for nearly 30 years, but I took on the Cabinet role on Tuesday 11th May 2010 – the day the astonishing Coalition was formed between Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs in London.
That Coalition has made some bold proposals for our NHS, and for the way that the NHS works with patients, public health, and local authorities. These proposals drew together themes that Liberal Democrats have been campaigning on for many years such as putting patients at the heart of the NHS, focussing on improving outcomes rather than hitting targets and freeing professionals from bureaucracy and central control.
The NHS White Paper caused quite a stir, and it has been brilliant to be involved, both as a GP working with colleagues to ensure robust and accountable GP commissioning arrangements and as a councillor working with the local NHS, public health and patient groups to help develop a shared vision for future health services in the Bristol region. There are questions and concerns, but overall these reforms are going in the right direction and command significant and sometimes unexpected support, based as they are on work done by successive Governments of different political hues.
The Government has now published their response to the White Paper consultation entitled “Liberating the NHS: legislative Framework and Next Steps” and the fingerprints of Liberal Democrat policy and the input of Liberal Democrat Health Minister, Paul Burstow, are clear for all to see!
An NHS based on principles of freedom, fairness and local decision accountability. An NHS that does not regard the status quo as satisfactory, but wants more responsive, improved services for our patients and one that is on a sustainable financial footing. I accept that under Labour, the spending on the NHS is now on a par with spending in European countries, but the red tape and central bureaucracy has meant we don’t yet have the best European standards of care. We can do better.
It is good to see some specific Liberal Democratic policies confirmed in this response.
(1) An extension of councils’ formal scrutiny powers to cover ALL NHS funded services, including public services, private services and voluntary sector services. All providers will be accountable and need to provide information or attend scrutiny meetings to explain themselves.
(2) An enhanced role for Local Authorities, leading with elected members, to deliver improved strategic coordination of commissioning across NHS, social care, and related childrens’ and public health services. What an opportunity for truly joined up thinking!
(3) Development of patient input and involvement by building on the work of the LINks (local involvement networks) and supporting Health Watch to become the local consumer champion for patients.
(4) Freedom to commission services from “any willing provider” – we need the flexibility and choice to deliver the best services to patients at the best price and quality and that may come from third sector or private providers as well as NHS providers.
We have the resources, the organisations, the hospitals, the practices and above all the people to make these reforms one of the most positive landmarks of this Coalition Government. These are challenging times, but we must not be afraid to be bold and decisive and make it happen.
Cllr Dr Jon Rogers represents Ashley Ward on Bristol City Council,