Simon Hughes: Andrew Lansley should go after NHS change


Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes suggested Andrew Lansley should go after NHS reforms

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley should "move on" from his role after NHS reforms in England are completed, Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes says.

The prime minister has backed Mr Lansley, amid reports three Tory ministers privately attacked his handling of the issue.

Mr Hughes said the Bill would be better after changes made in the Lords, but still not what "we would have wanted".

Labour says the PM has put "political pride" before the NHS's best interests.

The Health and Social Care Bill aims to overhaul the way the NHS in England works, giving GPs more control of the NHS budget and boost the private sector's role.

Bodies such as the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing remain opposed to the reforms, despite concessions from ministers.

While giving GPs a bigger say has been welcomed by some, the competition element remains deeply controversial.

'Not wanted'

Mr Hughes, a senior Lib Dem who remains outside government, said amendments demanded by the House of Lords could get the bill "in better shape".

But it was still "not the Bill we would have wanted", he said.

A controversial bill

  • The Health and Social Care Bill is one of the flagship pieces of legislation from the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government
  • GPs and other clinicians are to be given much more responsibility for NHS spending in England and greater competition with the private sector encouraged
  • The plans were put on hold last spring after opposition from MPs and peers. Labour warned of privatisation at the expense of patient care.
  • After a "listening exercise" some changes were made and the revised bill cleared its next Commons stage
  • But when the bill was in the Lords before Christmas it faced mounting opposition and the royal colleges of nurses and midwives joined those who opposed the bill outright
  • Labour are calling for the bill to be dropped, but a series of fresh amendments have been put forward aimed at tackling critics' concerns

Asked about Mr Lansley's position, Mr Hughes told BBC1's Andrew Marr show it might be for the best if he changed roles - but only after the reforms were in place.

"My political judgment is that in the second half of the parliament it would be better to move on," he said.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham vowed to give Mr Cameron the "fight of his life" unless he toned down the bill.

"Mr Cameron is making a grave mistake by saying he is going to force it on to the statute book," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Mr Burnham said he believed the bill - said to be proposing the biggest shake-up since the founding of the NHS in 1948 - would not be passed.

He said he was not against change but that the "back-room reforms" were a distraction from what the health service needed.

"We've argued all along that the government made a catastrophic mistake when it combined the biggest financial challenge in the history of the NHS with the biggest ever reorganisation."

'No alternative'

His comments came after Mr Cameron accused Labour of opportunism over the issue.

The prime minister also said he "was at one" with his health secretary and there was no alternative to the changes going through Parliament.

"Choice, competition and transparency may unsettle some people," he wrote in a comment piece in the Sunday Times.

The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham: PM putting political pride ahead of best interests of NHS

"But it's these things at the heart of our reform that will lead to the better NHS I care about and our country deserves."

His intervention followed the report of three of his party's cabinet ministers criticising Mr Lansley's handing of the bill, which applies to England.

And writing in the Mail on Sunday, Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries also criticised the prime minister's approach.

"It is clear that Cameron wants to kill his own NHS bill - and Lansley's career with it."

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told BBC1's Sunday Politics: "I am not aware of any cabinet minister that has expressed reservations about the reforms."

Mr Pickles dismissed backbenchers' concerns that the reforms could cost the Conservatives a majority at the next general election, saying the party must "do the right thing".

And Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt supported Mr Lansley, saying he believed he would eventually be seen "as the architect of the modern NHS".

Mr Hunt told the BBC Mr Lansley was the right person for the job and that it was wrong to judge someone who was "in the eye of the storm".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    GPs are trained as clinicians – not as health service commissioners – their priority should be the best treatment for patients – not who can provide the required treatment at the lowest cost. The efficient delivery of health care must be separated from decisions on what treatment is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    My recent experience of NHS includes
    Chasing a foreigner down corridor as running off pushing grub trolley while pulling drips tray behind me so that I could get something to eat after operation.
    Listening to a Dr from Zambia publicly & very loudly bad mouthing Britain & British Empire while treating another patient on the ward.
    I wonder how many bad British pounds he's earning in that role?

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    @175.Merkin Muffley . . . who is best placed to know what his patient needs? The GP!.......

    You must have been lucky enough to be seen by one of the rare competent GP's, many are useless, lot's of us have experience of that fact ! My local surgery doesn't even let me have a named GP anymore, no consistency, and even if I did I don't think I'd trust them to service my car let alone my health !

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.


    Why do people always say privatisation would lead us to be like the US? Why would it not lead us to a decent health service with better outcomes for patients, like in France or Germany?"

    Both spend substantially more of GDP on health than the UK, but outcomes are only marginally better. The private sectors in both are so tightly controlled they are little more than NHS trusts anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    287. Jane
    Why do people always say privatisation would lead us to be like the US?
    Which one do you trust?

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    Of course we could just increase income tax by 5% to pay for the NHS in its current form.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    290 Rebecca Riot - you say it doesn't need reform and that's it is it? I didn't say "drastic" reform, I said reform and if I'd had more space would have added "in parts". Too many penpushers and not enough frontline staff where they are needed. You make huge sweeping statements which are just your own beliefs without any facts at all to back them up.
    All bluster, no facts! Typical labourite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    I think the NHS needs to be renamed to something like "No need to contribute, take all you can and leave everyone else with the bill health service"

    or is that a bit too long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    The NHS has been there for us for 60 years, it needs us now to defend it from this awful bill.

    Please consider signing these two petitions and re-post them wherever you can, tell your friends and family, once our NHS is gone it won't be coming back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    if i had seen the private health care companies honour their obligation to those who had sub standard implants because they were too busy looking for profit than ensuring the patient had quality service i would not be too concerned. we will fund state of the art hospitals that private companies will use and when things go wrong we will pick up the bill. while they sun themselves on the beach

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    The full details of the changes have not been revealed to the general public. However, as a former purchasing officer in the largest hospital trust in the EU, I am pleased that the PM intends reducing the power of the administration staff.
    At present certain administrators can overrule decisions made by medical staff on medical matters i.e which patients take priority for treatment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    The sole aim of this bill is to break our NHS into small, vulnerable pieces, easy for big business fat-cats to exploit and get their hands on our health service cash.

  • Comment number 296.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    The Tories despise the NHS...they always have done...all the budget spent on it would feel better in their cronies pockets.
    They have no interest in the lower paid...they have no interest in the poor or the ill...except if the ill can pay ludicrous medical fees.

    They do not appreciate a level playing field for all...they prefer the advantage of money.
    Their hatred & greed will be their undoing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    To paraphrase Kipling,

    'And when all this is accomplished, and the Brave New World begins,
    And the 'Markets' are paid for existing, but we must all pay for their sins.
    Then as surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn,
    Then the Gods of the Copybook Headings, with terror and slaughter return! '

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    To reform a big organisation successfully, your changes should be based on firm evidence, and you should make sure they can work in practice as well as theory. These plans don't even work in theory. They have been drawn up by McKinsey and KPMG consultants and supported by Tories who dogmatically believe that competition is always a good thing, but there's no firm evidence behind them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    on this issue i am on the side of Andy Burnham
    dave has got it wrong over this one

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Any debate about the NHS ignores the big home truth about UK health. We are the fattest, and one of the five most unhealthy countries in Europe. For the NHS to work properly, people need to take responsibilty for their own health. Put the fags, booze, crisps & burgers down, pick up the fruit & veg, and put the trainers on. Then the NHS will be able to cope. Await the negative score, truth hurts.

  • Comment number 290.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Competition for Healthcare??
    There is a sucessful private sector for schools - it doesn't mean state schools should pay to have their services from Eton.

    If a Private Health Care dominates a specialist area go broke - how would you get your operation? Your own recourse is legal action. i.e. PIP

    It already happened:


Page 15 of 30


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