No confidence in Lansley

Today the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) sent a very clear rejection of the proposed NHS reforms by passing a vote of no confidence in the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and his Bill. At the RCN conference 96% of the 497 delegates backed this motion declaring their opposition to the proposed changes. This Bill aims to abolish Primary Care Trust’s (PCT’S), handover budgets to the hands of GP’s, allow for private companies to bid for health care treatment and introduce EU Competition Law to the NHS. The momentum against Andrew Lansley is building because as more people hear and read into this Bill the more people start object to it. Resistance is gaining more pace and the pressure is beginning to rise. Are we beginning to witness the demise of this Bill and of the Health Secretary too?
Andrew Lansley

We are only just approaching the end of the first year in this Coalition Government and already we have witnessed many Minister’s inability to govern. There was the controversy when Vince Cable was caught bragging to under-cover journalists about his war on Murdoch and thus ultimately breached a Minister’s responsibility to remain neutral in carrying out their decisions. We then had the ruling which held that Michael Gove’s cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future scheme was illegal highlighting this Government’s arrogance in making decisions. Today, we are now witnessing the rising winds of opposition blowing against Andrew Lansley and his NHS reforms. This Bill has now taken a ‘natural pause’ in it’s life as he said to give an opportunity to ‘pause and reflect’. Clearly this pause is an indication of the fact that this Government cannot ignore the growing resistance.

It is important to consider this Government’s mandate in relation to bringing about these NHS reforms. David Cameron promised before the 2010 election that he would not oversee a top-down reorganization of the NHS, their manifesto for the last election mentioned nothing of these reforms that have now being brought about. There was only one vague sentence about giving G.P’s ‘more power’ and that was it. Similarly the Liberal Democrats did not have any policy in their manifesto for re-organizing the NHS either; unfortunately it appears Nick Clegg has a gift for miss leading the people when we also look at the issue of rising tuition fees. These reforms were not even in the Coalition Agreement which puts more emphasis on the very fact that there is no mandate for these changes. There is something very undemocratic about a Government that is trying to bring about a policy which they did not pledge to the electorate in the General Election.

Doctors, nurses and we the people can see that this Bill has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with opening the door of the private markets to our NHS. Health care is too much of an important issue to leave to private companies, in the use private hands the focus would no longer be on the quality of health care and instead would be based on the ability to make a profit. It should be a Government’s responsibility to ensure that the people have at their means a system that will care for them in times of ill-health and need as it should be in their duty to ensure the people are well and healthy. There is something morally wrong about making a profit on the ill-health of others.

The passing of a vote of no confidence is the first big symbol of rejection we have seen in resistance to the NHS Reforms. Ed Miliband said that this is not a problem of ‘PR but instead a problem of principle’. The NHS needs security and safe hands and this proposed re-organisation will pose a significant risk to the quality of health care in this country. In Michael Moore’s documentary ‘Sicko’ Tony Benn said that there would be a revolution if any government ever tried to change the NHS. It is important to build on the resistance shown by the RCN to maintain pressure on Andrew Lansley and the rest of this Coalition Government in order to bring about the dropping of this Bill for the protection of our National Health Service.



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