Friday, 10 February 2012

How long before Health minster Andrew Lansley's luck runs out?

Health minister Andrew Lansley should do the Lotto given the extraordinary luck he’s shown in hanging on to his job. His Health and Social Care Bill intended to re-shape the National Health Service is a disaster.
Reform was overdue – we’ve known for decades demographics and advances in medicine required a response to control the pressure on spending.
But making the radical, top down changes, which the Prime Minister swore wouldn’t happen, proposed in the Bill can't be done at the same time as massive NHS cuts, another broken manifesto commitment.
The Bill has already been subject to a pause and hundreds of amendments. Lansley hasn’t only failed miserably to sell the Bill to voters, his own fellow cabinet members don’t understand it. Ministers say it could lose the Tories the next election.
The medical profession is solidly opposed to the Bill, which continues to look like backdoor privatisation of the NHS despite the concessions dragged out of the Government by Parliament.
It makes no sense to carry on with the Bill when many of its objectives could have been achieved without confrontational primary legislation.
Lansley has undone all the work of David Cameron, not for nothing a former television industry PR, in convincing the public the NHS was safe in Tory hands.
But Cameron, and Nick Clegg too, seem determined to battle on despite the political damage. Perhaps Lansley owes some of his apparent impregnability to the fact the Bill has been his baby for so long no one else understands it.
The very complexity makes it difficult to challenge but Lansley is lucky as well that in Ed Miliband, Labour has a leader who is an even worse communicator than he is, and, as yet, failed to rouse public opinion against the Bill.
I hope Lansley’s luck runs out before irreparable harm is done to the NHS.

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