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Daily View: NHS reform

Clare Spencer | 09:27 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Commentators discuss the NHS reform proposals.

Read the NHS reform White Paper in full

Ex Tory shadow health minister Ann Widdecomne says in the Express that Andrew Landsley is right to restore fundholding to GPs:

Hospital nurse

"It was one of the biggest successes of the Thatcher administration and, although originally suspicious, the medical profession became so enthusiastic that by the time the Conservatives left office in 1997 almost two thirds of GPs were fundholding or applying to be so. 
"It had never been made compulsory but was simply allowed to sell itself.
Quite simply it means that GPs can refuse to use hospitals where procedures or attitudes are unsatisfactory and buy places elsewhere. Hence block appointments with patients waiting around all morning disappeared and did not creep back until Labour took away doctors' power."

GP Ann Robinson observes in the Guardian that those in her profession may not be the best people to be in control of NHS money:

"At the moment, I attend a commissioning group meeting four times a year. It is dominated by a few individuals who have a strong agenda. Most participants eat their sandwiches in silence, nod off and appear to have little understanding of, or interest in, proceedings. The responsibility involved in commissioning is huge and the training nonexistent. It doesn't appear on the medical school curriculum: I've never been sent on or offered a course and can't read a balance sheet. Why would anyone want me to be responsible for complex budgetary decisions?"

Kevin Maguire argues in the Mirror that the reform is just cloaked privatisation:

"Strip away the management speak and David Cameron's naked policy is to privatise health, to wreck universal free care, to recreate the postcode lottery, to celebrate markets over medical need, to champion profit ahead of patients. Dr Cameron and his junior medic Andrew Lansley are, of course, too scared to tell the truth."

Fraser Nelson warns in the Telegraph that history is repeating itself, but not from the Thatcher years, instead from New Labour:

"Andrew Lansley's White Paper on health, for example, was released yesterday - almost exactly 10 years after Tony Blair's NHS Plan. Rather than being a refutation of the Blair-era health strategy, it looks strikingly like a reprisal. Once again, we see the excellent idea of a full internal market within the NHS. Once again, we are told to look forward to the greatest overhaul since its inception in 1948. And once again, we see a Health Secretary showing almost touching confidence that the NHS bureaucracy will play along and that the Primary Care Trusts will fully co-operate in their own abolition. 
"Ten years ago, Mr Blair and Alan Milburn also believed they could direct reform from Whitehall. But as time went on, they found that they were outmanoeuvred at every level. GPs would simply refuse to inform patients that they had the right to attend a private clinic at the NHS's expense."

John Rentoul suggests in the Independent that the communication strategy surrounding the announcement of reforms has been lamentable:

"It has widely been reported as the biggest reorganisation since Nye Bevan or somebody. People do not want a reorganised health service, they want a better one. What on earth went wrong?"

Links in full

Ann Widdecombe | Daily Express | NHS reforms are a good move
Ann Robinson | Guardian | GPs are doctors, not accountants
Kevin Maguire | Mirror | David Cameron's deadly threat to our NHS
Fraser Nelson | Telegraph | Can the Coalition triumph on the battlefield where Tony Blair was beaten?
John Rentoul | Independent | Andrew Lansley's disaster

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