Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Politics, it is often said, is about priorities. Last week has shown an interesting sense of the priorities of the MP for Bristol West.

First this from the Daily Telegraph Max Pemberton Column:

“In a letter that has been passed to me, Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, assures a worried constituent that the NHS Reform Bill will “improve the NHS and therefore definitely not lead to the privatisation of services”.

Doubtless Mr Williams means this sincerely. But I wonder if he has actually read the Bill. I telephoned and asked him: no, he hadn’t.”

Second from Mr Williams e-bulletin to the good people of Bristol West:

“Parliament has given approval to the Sovereign Grant Bill which makes the first reform to the finance of the Royal Family since 1760. .. In the first debate I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Buckingham Palace could be opened up on more days of the year in order to generate more income. The Chancellor has now announced that the Palace have agreed to this proposal.”

Full link for Daily Telegraph article: http://ht.ly/5NI2V


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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 Cornwall MP Andrew George has even demanded that the bill is withdrawn altogether.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,

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Medicine Man

Aneurin Bevan's creation is about to be broken up and sold off

The Government’s plans to reform the health service can be seen as logical. GPs are close to the patients, know what they want and are best placed to be the ‘purchaser’ of health care.

Many GPs are committed to the NHS and are keen to get the best for their patients, however some are not.  They are already running practices as private companies and are not really concerned about the NHS as a concept.

The purpose of these reforms is to shift the NHS to a federation of private providers. Some GPs will employ private companies to run their commissioning activities with the freedom to purchase services outside of the NHS maybe creating a market for new private sector providers to enter the British health market (I hate the idea of illness being a commodity).  Over time the NHS will become weaker and these reforms will help to pay to expand private provision and marginalise public sector.

The NHS can not be privatised wholesale, it is far too large and loved however the condem reforms start by breaking up the service into small units far easier to be swallowed by the private sector.

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Heal The World

This week an all party committee of MPs raised concerns about the use of homeopathy by the NHS.


I know this will offend some people but if there need to be cuts in services then this would be near the top of my list. Homeopathy is the hair of the dog form of medicine invented in the 18th century by a German Doctor.


The idea is that the best remedy is something that causes the systems you have, diluted to the extent that the chemical used could not actually be found in the ‘medicine’. The idea is that the ‘memory’ of the substance is enough to heal the complaint.

The evidence to support homeopathy as any more than a placebo effect is as thin as the substances are diluted.  Many people claim that it is effective because their complaint has gone away but the chances are that this is the natural healing powers of the body or the transient nature of the malady.

My favourite homeopathy story is that a bid was made to Defra for a homeopathic treatment for crops to replace pesticides.  When someone in the civil service realised that what was being proposed was that they fund someone to water their plants the bid was declined.

While some so-called ‘alternative’ treatments, for example acupuncture have an evidence base to support their use homeopathy is little more than hokum and I object to funding it through my taxes.

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Still Ill

The link below exposes how far the Lib Dems will go to make a name for themselves. Our Local MP and Lib Dem Councillors ran a big NHS SOS  (logo is graphic for this post) scare campaign in Bristol a couple of years ago.  I have been talking to NHS staff, they may have criticisms about where the priorities have been and the effect of targets, but they all report that under Labour the NHS has improved markedly.  No its not perfect, mistakes are made, improvements are required, yes there will never be enough resources to do everything but the NHS remains a fantastic achievement which Tories and Lib Dems like to run down to gain votes.


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