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PM's Andrew Lansley Week

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Joanna Carr Joanna Carr | 08:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Andrew Lansley Week. I think even the health secretary himself would agree that it's not the most obvious crowd-pleaser, but that's what we on PM are about to embark on.

Andrew Lansley


We've invited the health secretary for England to join us live every day this week on PM to discuss his proposed changes to the NHS in England. The scale of the changes being proposed is disputed - the government stresses evolution, others see revolution - but let's take our cue from the prime minister, who told the Today programme that it was "quite a fundamental change". 80% of the NHS budget will be controlled by GPs. Every hospital to become a foundation trust. No more Primary Care Trusts or Strategic Health Authorities. All patients to have the choice of "any willing provider". And those are just the headlines.

The more I thought about all this, the more it became apparent to me that this subject couldn't be covered in any depth with a typical six-minute interview, or even a 10-minute one. And so I came up with the idea of a series of interviews, stripped across the week, each one tackling a different aspect of the reform, and Mr Lansley agreed.

On Monday, it was the role of GPs. Tuesday, it's patient experience. Wednesday, cost and the role of competition. Thursday, holding the NHS to account. Each one will be preceded by a short explainer piece from our health correspondent, Jane Dreaper. And on Friday, we'll put questions raised by the PM audience to Mr Lansley.

Some might say it's too much time to give to one politician of one party. But this interview series will mark the publication of the bill. Doubtless the debate will evolve, and we will return to it in other ways later in its Parliamentary passage.

We will represent other perspectives during the interview series, but I make no apologies for keeping the focus on Eddie's interviews with the man responsible for the reforms. And judging from the size of the postbag already, there's plenty of substance for 5 serious interviews.

Perhaps this could launch a whole new genre of interview... Ed Balls Month? Sarah Teather Summer? The Year of Oliver Letwin?

Joanna Carr is editor, PM, iPM and Broadcasting House.


  • Comment number 1.

    morning , as someone living in Scotland let me tell you evolution OR revolution you ask ?All I can say is thank god for devolution ! at least it protects us in some way from this thinly veiled ATTACK on the NHS.

    the NHS in England and Scotland were already 2 very different beasts ,thankfully, before this latest attempt to kill the NHS off in England.

    insurance company's must be rubbing their hands in glee.

    Middle England didn't really have much choice did you. blue tory or red tory, tweedle dee or tweedle dum

  • Comment number 2.

    I think this is a great idea and should be a regular feature. It might also work particularly with subjects more complex than "A says this, B says that, let's get the two of them on to fight it out". A range of different views on one subject, then a round-up on the Friday.

  • Comment number 3.

    There are big problems with the NHS and they do need attention because of the huge cost of the service. Governments often try to centralise control and management of administration because they think it is bound to be more economical on the large scale. Every so often a new government will realise that the bigger the administration the less effective it is and the more it costs because of beaurocratic creep and loss of focus. The current drive to de-centralise and put control of the NHS into the hands of smaller local groups, whether they be doctors or administrators, is a step forward because control will become more localised and therefore more sensitive to local issues.
    One of the biggest problems with the NHS at the moment is the lack of effective diagnostic capability. GP's are supposed to be the diagnostic filters but all they do, for the most part, is hand out prescriptions for whatever may seem to be effective for the presented symptoms, assessed in an initial appointment lasting only a few minutes. That is a situation which requires attention because it is hugely expensive and it is what leads to the huge delays in providing effective treatment.
    In any very large organisation there are bound to be problems caused by the very nature of human activity, the whole spectrum of competence and incompetence is to be found there. What I find amazing is how effective it can be, despite all the incipient pitfalls. I think the moves proposed by the government are potentially dangerous but I also think that they are an attempt at improvement in the interests of patients and taxpayers and that has to be a move in the right direction. I am not a conservative voter and I have my doubts about the coalition but on this subject I am in favour of the proposals.

  • Comment number 4.

    This new way of doing things seems like a good idea to me. Last night Mr Lansley said something like "Good to be here" when welcomed to the programme, but, as Eddie said, will he think that by the end of the week!

    I have not been examining the issue of NHS reform, but I learned a lot from last night's fine interview. I look forward to Friday's interview when Mr Lansley when he will answer some questions from listeners. I think some of the questions will be quite pointed and from people who work in the NHS.

  • Comment number 5.

    Eddie - I admire immensely your broadcasting, and particularly your interviewing, style but I defy you to make Andrew Lansley sound anything other than crushingly, mind-numbingly boring.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good Afternoon
    After listening to David Cameron on BBC news last night telling us that the NHS is Free to all, May I remind David Cameron that the NHS is not free and that the Working Man in the UK pays Taxes to run our great institution. Maybe we need to streamline the NHS but first he should sort out the Tax evaders of this country, It beggars belief that High earners are evading the 50% tax Bracket. How can any government let this happen, again and again the working man in this country gets a bad deal. Bankers , Footballers and MPs alike must bear the hardship this country is suffering. David Cameron should stop the corrupt society we live in and give the country what it deserves, Jobs and security to live in a fair society for all , not the minorities and the have nots, but to the hard working people of the UK

  • Comment number 7.

    Unfortunately I think this publicity effort must be supported by us. Public opinion has a crucial role in this case. Even if this extraordinary woman is trying to change something, would not succeed without our help. So if we want to achieve something good in this system, you must support, including financially.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the series is a great idea although I have to agree with newlach (#4) - Friday's interview including questions from listeners will be quite revealing as to the real credibility of the new initiatives.


  • Comment number 10.

    Tweedle Dee and Teedle Dum was my line. What measures are in place to combat massive fraud and thievery? Most doctors are good people but many game the system. Where's the oversight to protect the nation's healthcare system for British citizens? Will this become another Ponzi rip off scam?

  • Comment number 11.

    At a time when a professional footballer can 'forget' the Porsche car he parked at a railway station it is incredible to think some believe we live in a just and fair society. I'd like Mr Lansley to admit his politics and those prescribed by his Party over the years have destroyed the notion that more important than money is integrity, honesty and trust. I'd like him to admit that, for almost a decade, New Labour bettered their Tory predecessors as a "Tory Government".

    I'd like him to admit that the NHS is NOT safe in his, or any other Member of Parliament's hands. The NHS was once about service to all; now it is a travesty of the word 'service', battered by a generation who forgot what 'service' means.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    At the Village of the Underprivileged where I used to live
    Now some of those big folks are talking corrupted bribes
    while those youths come looking for petty lives
    now i seems they don't want me to strive anymore
    that's why they want to wreck my life

    ▢ (Gregory Isaacs) ▢ Sweeter The Victory ▢ Footstool ▢ Loving Pauper ▢

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Editor,

    What has happened to Mark Mardells America Blog?

  • Comment number 15.

    As a fan of PM, and of Eddie Mair in particular, I was concerned that the BBC was giving so much air time to what amounted to Government propoganda in so far as Andrew Lansley was allowed to get away with many bland and contentious assertions. What he is doing is potentially ruinous to the National Health Service and yet Eddie was , to say the least, gentle and subservient. Is this because the BBC is afraid of the possibility that the Government will try to privatise them as it is doing with the Health and Education Service in this country? Can we please now have a week in which opposition voices are allowed to air their views (and that won't just be politicians) with the same length of time being made available over a week.

  • Comment number 16.

    Unfortunately, I can only comment on today's performance as I was unable to listen to the rest of the slots.

    For those who missed the Friday slot, Andrew Lansley was supposed to be answering questions from members of the public. I say 'supposed' because he managed (either on purpose, or by complete lack of understanding of the English language) to misinterpret virtually all the questions. How hard is it to understand a question along the lines of "If GPs can't manage the ordering of the correct quantity of flu vacines, how can they be trusted to manage the vast sums of money that is planned under the reforms". I, for one, would really like to know the answer to that question. The interviewer made some effort (not enough, IMHO) to get an answer from him but to no avail.

    I know that a prerequisite for all politicians these days is to be able to avoid answering questions but this was beyond the pale.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the idea for the series of interviews is a good one. But its success is very dependent on the interviewee willingness to cooperate. What's the likelihood of any politician doing that???

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 Adrian B said "I think the idea for the series of interviews is a good one. But its success is very dependent on the interviewee willingness to cooperate. What's the likelihood of any politician doing that???"

    Listening to Mr Blair's second attendance at the Iraq Inquiry consolidated my feelings about politicians, the truth, and people struggling to uncover fact amongst all the fiction. Having witnessed performances by Mr Lansley in the past he is no Blair but then you do not have to be to face up to the average BBC interviewer these days. I just wish we had a Robin Day figure doing a daily slot on prime time TV grilling the leading cabinet members for an hour or two. Most of the current lot wouldn't last two minutes.

    How do we get decent politicians, decent political correspondents and decent interviewers?

  • Comment number 18.

    '17. At 02:32am on 22 Jan 2011, Daisy Chained wrote: do not have to be to face up to the average BBC interviewer these days.

    Maybe not all their fault? Or, at least under their control. Begging the question who is paid what... for what?

    'Then it started — a steady stream of email messages from producers telling me what to ask.'

  • Comment number 19.

    As I am a Scot I thought you might mention (when we get the usual knee jerk response about Scotland retaining the good old NHS) that there are roughly 5 million people in Scotland and well over 5 million in London alone.Obviously that means an enormous difference in resources needed etc yet no-one seems mention it.
    Could I say that I think Andrew Lansley did very well in the programmes as he has in the other media outlets.

  • Comment number 20.

    Crikey - a BBC editor's blog as up to date as the 18 January?

    Also, there certainly seems to be a serious and increasing 'time lag' and divisive detachment between various parts of the UK?

    BBC blogs and reporter/correspondents blogs appear to enforce that division/isolation?

    It is disappointing that the BBC journalists and their blogs reinforce the devolved politicians narrow mind-set and thus feed on division rather than collaboration for the UK as a whole? Just a thought.

  • Comment number 21.

    You know, Joanna, I've searched the entire BBC news site, but I can't find a mention of Peter Sissons anywhere. Strangely, he's absolutely everywhere else on every other British news site? I find this most puzzling. Instead of doing 'Andrew Lansley' week, who is a shocking waste of space, wouldn't it be a better use of license payer resources to do a 'Peter Sissons' week instead? Or is there just some problem with the phrase 'Peter Sissons' which falls foul of your newspeak diktats?

  • Comment number 22.

    Andrew Lansley week? Just think, someone at the BBC was paid to come up with that idea. More worryingly, someone told them it was a good idea.
    Can you imagine the canteen chats? Unbelievable.

  • Comment number 23.

    I moved to NZ from England 9 years ago and it is an opportunity to reflect on the homeland with a little distance inbetween. This is a charged issue as so many maintain strong beliefs in terms of access to healthcare resources (rightly so). What I've learned is that it is important to move on from blame with respect to who may have made bad choices for the NHS in the past as this cannot be changed, only learned from. We can get tied up in knots trying to establish blame and all that effort usually results in knowing only that which was known at the start... changes correctly applied can improve the NHS.

    What works well here in NZ as an example is that there is a small charge for attending the GP (not for the more precious or vunerable members of society though) and this fee applies if you don't turn up for the GP visit. I heard some shocking stats recently about how many appointments are no-shows in the UK. Something like a third of all GP time in some places (meaning with 100% attendence with the SAME number of people attending would require two thirds the amount of doctors).

    The point is that changes often work best when applied carefully over time, learning from other healthcare systems where there is potential to do so. Revolutions seldom work in the same way that Robert Mugabe may have had good intentions in seizing farms but his revolution in Zimbabwe basically missed the point and nearly ruined the country for all the people. I hope if the NHS changes are radical or not, that they applied as if they were a gentle acceleration rather than causing the NHS to be turned on its head. The term evolution may sound good because it rhymes with revolution, however, it is not trivial to grasp the use of the term outside of genetics as a way of describing the response to resource pressures to maximise efficient use of those limiting factors. This moves into the world of calculus (e.g. describing rates of change) and shows that those who use the term are simply not communicating well, choosing instead words that rhyme. This is not helpful to us.

    Uniting people, not dividing them is the best way forward. Find what we all agree on (like ensuring fewer time wasters, focusing on preventative measures) and slowly apply change in some areas to see what works best and if that change works out differently in some areas.

    What we don't need is politicians who need punchy stuff and soundbites because they cannot fundamentally communicate the points we agree on in a way that is not divisive.

    More red tape would also be a good indicator that politicians do not understand how to choose decent ways of accounting for service delivery in health.

    Less paperwork, more focus on finding out what patients ARE NOT telling their doctors and training them hard on being good at obtaining family histories so doctors stop fobbing patients off with their first guesses due to (unintentional) incompetent application of probability distribution functions to single sample sets (i.e. each patient).

    Please do not forget what a blessing it is to have an NHS :]

  • Comment number 24.

    Mike Elliot made such a good set of points... this is the kind of person any politician should be looking to have on his team. Think Mike would probably prefer crawling over broken glass than being a servant to an MP but hopefully there are some like him who are willing to take that job and 'be like Mike' i.e. not being a sychophant and not requiring to make ad hominen or contextually ambiguous comments to communicate in a way that adds value.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear Ms Carr

    Yes a very good idea getting people in for a week; how about a banker and a trade union leader, as for Ms Teather - you may find it rather a challenge - she seems to be invisible !

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the Andrew Lansley week is a great idea provided there is adequate feedback/ questions from listeners during the shows... at least that way BBC can avoid some of the criticism about being biased. The ongoing SABC leadership crisis (the national broadcaster) in South Africa is dealing with exactly this issue with opposition parties and indeed many members of the general public now complaining that the broadcaster only shows one-side of the story (the one that is sympathetic to the incumbent regime).

    More in-depth programs like this one will go a long way to discussing real issues and will hopefully make it difficult for public figures and politicians to easily slip away with a few words. I believe this will be useful to the public by giving them a more accurate view of what is going on... look forward to reading the feedback afterwards!

    Sizwe (News & Politics blogger)

  • Comment number 27.

    Great information and great idea. Very useful.thanks for sharing

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Has anyone thought about the affect this new change will have on patient behaviour? Has it not occurred to them that GPs are likely to be inundated by people demanding treatments. If they are not careful - or perhaps lucky - they will spend most of their time saying "no". I fear that the most demanding patients won't accept this and will complain.

    Apart from the stress this will cause GPs, we will soon need a system geared up for many more complaints and many more requests to change GP. If the ultimate penalty is to strike off the most difficult patients there will also be a growing number of patients turning up at Casualty because they have nowhere else to go.

  • Comment number 30.

    The only subjects which are down as “blog” sites at the foot of this page are the subjects that don’t really matter.

    How about the beeb opening a blog on Overseas payments, donations and immigration. Pot holes in the roads and are falling apart. NHS being destroyed by the ones who can afford private care. Families and pensioners hungry, homeless and the middle of the road parent at 50 years old losing their house because they have been made redundant.
    In total the Brit Gov spends £800 billion of our hard earned tax money overseas in wars that don’t concern us, floods in pakistan, food aid for India, China, immigrants and dependants of immigrants in their country of origin and supporting over 90 countries with our tax. Enough is enough !!!!
    We pay our tax so we can have a better life but oh no, the brit gov gives 80% away and we are in a recession. What don’t the gov understand about recession ?

    So how about it beeb, bring to the fore: -
    Overseas payments, donations and immigration. Pot holes in the roads and are falling apart. NHS being destroyed by the ones who can afford private care. Families and pensioners hungry, homeless and the middle of the road parent at 50 years old losing their house because they have been made redundant.
    Wake up the UK and unite the country once again.

  • Comment number 31.

    State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron !!!!

    My God it's taken the Brit Gov over 40 years to realise this facade is a blind man’s bluff.

    Now stop the overseas and domestic payments to these terror groups.
    I suppose this will take another 40 years yes ?

    However I have my suspicions this is only to pacify the people who are now unemployed thru their employers employing a foreign workforce, with financial assistance from the Brit Gov.

    Does the Brit Gov not realise that while we are in the EU they cannot change anything as week on week they are handing more power over to Brussels.This is rotten with PC, HR and do gooders.

    To add to this I am certain only the Brit Gov interpretation of the EU laws has put us in this hole.

  • Comment number 32.

    I am writing to apologize to the BBC for stopping a news story that you wanted to do on African Americans going back to Ghana and performing a religious ritual "Returning Through The Gate of No Return".
    I was younger then and did not know about the BBC. A woman tried to tell me that you had a different perspective than the American media. She was right. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused.

    Daryl Ward
    Omega Baptist Church
    1821 Emerson Avenue
    Dayton, Ohio 45406

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Why is no one in the BBC questioning Mr Cameron about the One Billion Pounds to be given to India - It is the world's sixth de facto recognised nuclear weapons state and has the third-largest standing armed force in the world, while its military expenditure ranks tenth in the world. So what exactly are we paying for.


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