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Editor's blog Friday 20 May: Week ends with new salvo in media battle to win reform of NHS reform

So. Who's winning the media war of winning the reform of the NHS reforms today?

Today, the Lib Dems are using The Independent to show that they are pushing on a range of fronts.


Click here for details of 'Lansley: the NHS is not a mobile phone; I am not Henry V', via subscription-based Health Policy Intelligence.


They previously bared their muscular liberalism on the issue of Monitor's role. As I wrote then, the language used is very interesting, and the redrafted Bill will bear close inspection.

Today's Indy reports them going with four main demands:
* "We must ensure that GPs only get involved in commissioning decisions once they are ready and willing"

* "The removal of any suggestion that we are pursuing a dogmatic obsession with competition [rather than] the best healthcare system in the world"

* "Preventing the cherry-picking of services by private providers to make sure NHS providers are not needlessly pushed into financial trouble and NHS research and training can thrive"

* "Enhancing governance and local accountability so decisions are transparent to all"

The paper reports that Mr Clegg's document, entitled 'NHS reforms: changes required', says: "It is clear that the NHS does need to be updated if it is to meet patients' needs and provide world class health care in the future. But the reforms as originally set out would not achieve that goal, would not protect and sustain our NHS and have clearly very little support among NHS staff or the wider public. I will not ask my parliamentary colleagues to support legislation on the NHS until I am personally satisfied that the reforms have been substantially changed to ensure our NHS is secure for the future".

We are apparently in 'Mexican stand-off' territory now: the scenario at the end of Quentin Tarantino movies where all the characters are pointing guns at one another. Or are we?

Let's think about this: although the only party with the cash for a campaign, do the Conservatives want to call a snap general election in the autumn, when they will be painted as the party threatening the NHS?

Quite right. It's unlikely.

The Lib Dems' position is a little less bad then it may seem. Their backs are to the wall, popularity-wise. Which in poker terms, means that while may be trying to draw to fill an inside flush, their money's already on the table. And if they fold, they lose the lot.

Good game, poker. But you need the face for it. And the stake.

One cheer for Andrew Lansley
In a fairly uncharacteristic move, Health Policy Insight raises one non-Bronx cheer for Secretary Of State For The Time Being Andrew Lansley for his announcement that funding will be made available to sustain the successful and effective cancer networks.

The other two cheers go to the groups who have campaigned very effectively for this to be done.

The need for networked solutions is orthogonal to the philosophy that competition alone can fix the NHS's problems. If cancer can be exceptional for silly national drugs funds, then such a guarantee should have been made ages ago. Better late than never.