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Guest editorial Friday 11 March 2016: The tragedy of the NHS (Reinstatement) Bill's delay

Guest contributor The Masked Blogger casts an eye over a legislative fiasco

On Friday the NHS was finally laid to rest after the NHS (Re-reinstatement) Bill was adjourned till late April.

Disgracefully, few Labour MPs turned up ready to vote on a Bill which was not going to be passed, and which could never be implemented. This just shows why Labour needs to find a true left-wing leader.

This tragedy comes on top of the NHS being privatised by New Labour, then confusingly sold off by Lansley and finally, ruined by Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Hunt should, however, get praise for promising he would not use any of the sweeping new powers the Bill would have given him; and also for promising to appoint only Keep Our NHS Public supporters into the new senior management positions the Bill created for him to fill.

Onward, Comrades, back to the 1970s!
The Bill would have restored the NHS back to how it was in the 1970s – a golden age before there was any management, before IT, before Regulation and Inspection and when patients and the public knew their place and were not invited to have views.  Long waits and no involvement are self-evidently good for patients.

This was a golden age, particularly for old people warehoused in long-stay wards and for those with mental health or learning disability requirements. Abuse and neglect were not permitted (or at least were not reported).

Decisions to give large sums of money to hospitals were taken by open and transparent means not in any way open to influence by vested interests.  Golden indeed.

The Bill would have removed all private provision of services to the NHS, nationalising pharmacy, dentistry, ophthalmology - making all GPs employees and ending all other current contracts; also ensuring all necessary equipment, especially IT, was manufactured through the new Health Boards.

At least, that is what I was told it would do.

Its failure is doubly troubling, since the Bill at a stroke solved all the major current problems, such as wholly inadequate funding; a social care system in crisis; and major workforce shortages.

Obviously, it would have spontaneously dramatically improved quality as well.

This Bill was all about how the NHS should be managed, and was specially written by people with no experience or direct knowledge of managing the NHS to prevent any conflicts of interest.

It was supported by hundreds of people who all agreed they would read it later, but who agreed that what was in it was everything claimed about it.

And the cost was so modest. Who could complain about another major top-down reorganisation, when we all know how well they work out? Closing hundreds of organisations and moving hundreds of thousands of staff around is hardly a proble,m and transferring assets (liabilities!) and renegotiating contracts by the thousands is a breeze.

What could possibly go wrong, as we waste two or three years of management time and effort?

It is also deeply disappointing to local authorities, who were looking forward to their role in designing the local healthcare systems and transferring their roles and responsibilities to new appointed bodies: democratic control can be such a nuisance.

It is all so infuriating – it means people may have to think about how improvements can be made without reorganising things and causing chaos every few years.