Lansley - I changed my mind


Andrew Lansley: "Competition is a means to an end, not an end itself"

Andrew Lansley says he has changed his mind about the benefits of competition in the NHS since saying some years ago that "the first guiding principle" of reform should be to "maximise competition"*.

However, he told me that the latest amendments to his health bill - which he is still working on with the Liberal Democrats - do not represent a change to the legislation's underlying principles.

Me: "Are you saying you've changed your mind a little since you said 'the first guiding principle is to maximise competition'?"

Andrew Lansley: "Yes I have, I have, because competition is a means to an end - not an end in itself."

I was speaking to the health secretary straight after he'd been summoned to the Commons to explain the latest changes he plans to make, and hours after one of the pioneers of GP Commissioning - the idea at the heart of the Bill - called on him to drop the Bill.

The Bromley By Bow health centre in east London was the first practice Andrew Lansley visited as health secretary. Dr Sam Everington - once a cheerleader for reform - now argues that it can go ahead without the bureaucracy which he claims the coalition's reforms are creating.

Mr Lansley is not accepting any blame for failing to convince doctors and nurses. He blamed the BMA for putting out misinformation. I asked him whether he had ever looked in the mirror and concluded that he was not the man for the job. His answer was revealing, as were his comments on the Downing Street adviser who said that he should be taken out and shot.

I will post up his replies here soon, as well as clips of his interview, which also covers policy detail.

* 9 July 2005 when Andrew Lansley was shadow health secretary

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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