Why Lib Dem politics could make lousy policy
Both in public and private Lib Dems are letting it be known that they will veto large chunks of the Health Bill – and portray it as a victory for their influence in Government.
“At the end of the day if we think this is a bad bill then having no bill would be better than that so we have to come up to substantial changes,” Danny Alexander told The Guardian at the weekend. Nick Clegg has said similar things.
This may be good politics – but it is lousy policy.
The problem is this. The Department of Health can make limited changes to the Health Bill (eg putting nurses and other health workers on GP commissioning boards) – but wholesale change at this late stage will cause chaos on the ground.
Take the Lib Dem promise that GP will not be forced to join consortiums and the roll out could be delayed. Well that would be all very well if the Government had not already started running down Primary Care Trusts (who do the job of consortiums at the moment).
Think that doesn’t affect patients? Well you’d be wrong. It means you may have to wait longer for an operation; you won’t get the newest drugs. In the worst care scenario they may not pay for you to get treated at all.
It’s been said before – but it’s worth saying again. The main criticism of the health reforms is that they taking place at the same time as the NHS is being asked to save £20 billion over four years. The risk of destabilisation is huge.
But that’s doubly true if you go back start trying to unpick the reforms now that they’ve started.
The Lib Dems want to be taken seriously as a party of Government. On the NHS they are in danger failing in that test.
www.twitter.com/oliver_wrightTagged in: Andrew Lansley, health, nhs, nick clegg
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