With the current carve-up of the NHS into regional monopolies run by private companies, some of whom are already notorious for not providing an acceptable level of public service elsewhere, here’s the final email reply on the subject that I received from a LibDem.
Re: Health and Social Care Bill
Thank you for getting in touch about this important issue. I care passionately about the NHS. I and my family depend on it like everyone else. I am committed to protecting the fundamental principle that underpins it: that care is available to all and free at the point of use. However, the health service cannot stand still if we are to protect it for the future – not least because of our ageing population and the cost of new technologies.
I spent three years as the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, and spoke out publicly about my serious concerns about the Bill in April last year. Since then, thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the Bill has been substantially improved: the Secretary of State remains ultimately accountable for the NHS, and there are safeguards against competition on price, safeguards against cherry picking, and safeguards against the special favours to the private sector that were rife under the last Labour Government. The new NHS regulator, Monitor, will have as its number one priority protecting patients’ interests rather than promoting competition.
At Liberal Democrat conference last weekend the party made it clear that the work on improving this Bill needs to continue, but also that the NHS cannot stand still.
The NHS is facing the twin challenges of an ageing population and ever-increasing costs of treatment. To protect the NHS for the future, it is vital that we make changes to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, to deliver more care in our local communities and to better integrate health and social care. By putting power in the hands of doctors and nurses the Bill aims to do just that.
With best wishes
Member of Parliament for North Norfolk
I am unsure how the privatisation of the NHS puts “power in the hands of doctors and nurses” in any way at all. Perhaps the Hon. Member for North Norfolk would care to elucidate further, taking into account current events? I would also be extremely interested in an explanation as to why the Bill was made law with such indecent haste and how the astounding achievement of evaluating the franchise for Surrey, putting out tenders – you did call for tenders, didn’t you boys? – receiving and reviewing the submissions, followed by negotiating and signing the final contract were all completed in the space of two weeks.
Like Hamlet’s mother’s second marriage, it followed hard upon the sad event that made it possible. It does not make the Cameron/Clegg government look any more honest than the Claudius/Gertrude monarchy. In fact, Gertrude had the excuse of being blinded by love, whereas it looks increasingly as though Clegg and his cronies are blinded only by their desire to exercise a crumb of political power, however briefly.
- The NHS bill: reply from Sir Alan Beith MP (plagueofmice.anarchic-teapot.net)
- Nick Clegg’s office replies to concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill (plagueofmice.anarchic-teapot.net)
- The NHS bill: reply from Baroness Williams of Crosby (plagueofmice.anarchic-teapot.net)
- Liberal Democrats vote not to hold debate on scrapping NHS bill (guardian.co.uk)
- NHS reforms: Lib Dems submit emergency motion to spring conference (guardian.co.uk)
- NHS chief: reforms are ‘confused mess’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Norman Lamb: Lib Dem who pushed policy to privatise Royal Mail (guardian.co.uk)