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Editor's blog Monday 4 April 2011: Mirror, Mirror - Tebbit, Miliband, Lansley and La Mome on NHS reform

Good afternoon.

I'm starting with Lord Tebbit's editorial for the Daily Mirror. It's where Our Saviour And Liberator Andrew Lansley started. As I pointed out, in 2001 OSAL told BBC News Tebbit was his political hero.

Norman Tebbit has lost none of his timing (which is as it should be - a boxer's punch is always the last thing to go). "I have known the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, for 30 years. In his day he was a very able civil servant, and it seems to me that if anyone could unravel and reform the tangled bureaucracy which holds up the devoted professionals of the NHS, it ought to be someone with his experience.

"What worries me about the reforms however is the difficulty of organising fair competition".


Click here for details of 'Andrew Lansley's Millwall Tendency', via subscription-based Health Policy Intelligence.


Tebbit continues, "One problem is that within the NHS there are teaching hospitals, often centres of excellence, which apart from treating patients, also have the responsibility of training doctors and nurses. That all takes time and costs money.
Private hospitals are under no obligation to do training and do not have to carry those costs".

Andrew Lansley's political hero's conclusion on the Bill is stark: "I can understand why the Coalition is in a hurry to get all this through so that it is up and running before the next election, but as my grandfather often warned me, more haste can mean less speed. ... The inefficient NHS is a long way from perfect. There is much it could learn from the private sector, but there is a lot of good in it that should not be put at risk".

Mili-E calls for a blank paper White Paper
The speech that Labour leader Ed Miliband gave on NHS reform this morning at the RSA is now online.

Key lines: "There is little reason to believe that the wholesale transfer of £80 billion of public money to GPs will enhance accountability and some reasons to believe it will be reduced. Labour did use the private sector to deliver services for NHS patients. But these proposals take us into a whole different arena, with the prospect of private sector companies being used to carry out commissioning on behalf of GPs. Decisions about which services are available, when and to whom, may slip swiftly into the hands of private companies.

" ... rather than strengthening the values that underpin our NHS, the proposed changes risk squeezing out collaboration and common endeavour. I suspect that, if implemented, this Bill will do enduring damage to the culture in which our NHS operates.

"When I asked David Cameron about the clauses of the bill dealing with competition at Prime Minister’s Questions a few weeks ago, he seemed ignorant about them. I still believe that not enough people understand the potential implications of them".

Mili-E offers That Nice Mr Cameron a deal: "if this plan to reorganise the NHS is going to be significantly changed - and it must be - let any new plan be the subject of a new White Paper and a new national consultation.

"Because the NHS is so important, I will make this offer: if there is a genuine attempt to address the weaknesses of the Tory reorganisation proposal then my party will enter into a debate about a new plan with an open mind, accepting that any NHS plan must be delivered within a tight spending settlement".

Smart positioning here, since a new White Paper is the last thing That Nice Mr Cameron wants (What the ambulatorily-challenged duck that is Our Saviour And Liberator Andrew Lansley wants is no longer germane.)

Tune in at 3.30 pm for OSAL Live
OSAL Lansley's appearances as Health Secretary look set to gain a certain rarity value, so I'm sure you will all click here at 3.30 pm for his statement to the House on NHS reform.

It will be interesting to see how he tries to flog The Calais Defence. It will be even more interesting to see who is sitting next to him, with the Health Select Committee report on 'Commissioning - further issues' out at midnight.

I wonder if he's going to shift his political hero from Norman Tebbit to Norman Lamont?

All together now: "Non, rien de rien ..."