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The Maynard Doctrine: Conservative Radicals with socialist hearts - whatever next?

Professor Alan Maynard fully supports the decision to reduce the tariff premiums paid to childrens’ and other specialist hospitals, but wonders why most people in the media haven’t noticed.

Carefully study of Hansard is always fun. Having MPs insult Ministers and Ministers reciprocating is great entertainment. On November 2nd, the exchanges were particularly entertaining and very informative.

The socialist heart of Andrew Lansley
Indeed, there was evidence that Comrade Lansley has a socialist heart

After wishing John Healey, Labour’s health shadow, a long tenure in opposition, Lansley was told by his charitably-moustached shadow that his tenure would be short.

Then Barry Sheerman MP weighed in to emphasise that not all Ministers are living examples of healthy living: “Is it appropriate for my constituents in Huddersfield to be lectured about healthy living by a Minister who is out of condition, overweight and a chain smoker?” Clegg, Obama and now health ministers keeping drug dealers in the style to which they are accustomed: whatever next!

To serious matters! Way back in Labour times, the Department commissioned University of York researchers to appraise the premiums paid to specialist hospitals.

The report has been delivered, and on Tuesday on the floor of the House of Commons the lid was lifted on its likely impact by MPs anxious to defend the budgets of their local outraged childrens’ specialist hospitals

The cosh for GOSH
It was a remarkable event. That well-known socialist MP and former Secretary of State Frank Dobson was appalled at the effect on his local hospital: Great Ormand Street Hospital (GOSH). Not only is GOSH to be coshed, but also hospitals like Liverpool’s Alder Hey children’s are to lose chunks of money. The savings from the long-term generosity of the NHS to these excellent units will be disbursed more equitably across the rest of the system.

Why have GOSH and others had such a favoured time for decades? The question asked of the researchers was whether a 78% premium was equitable for such specialist units? They conclude that only a 25 % premium is appropriate.

As a consequence, GOSH turns into crikey as they stand to lose £16 million. But worry not, ye GOSH - because as Comrade Lansley emphasised this trivial sum is only 2% of GOSH’s income. No problems there then, lads! Alder Hey may lose £1 million.

The nice issue is why these exchanges have not been covered in the general media, let alone the specialist health care journals. It will be fun to see them emerge slowly as lethargic journalists catch up with a nicely equitable decision by our new masters.

’Well done Lansley!’

The preferential treatment of the “special” hospitals is inevitable, but the high level of premium paid has been a long-standing outrage. No doubt there will in time be outrage about these resource shifts. But well done Lansley! The boy dun OK on this issue.

And so what of other “specialist” hospitals, cradled in luxury by premia which are the products of history and privilege? Hopefully, this decision to alter funding to childrens’ specialist units will see “interesting” challenges to St Thomas’s, Guys and other aristocrats.

Hopefully we can expect radical change soon - and quite rightly too!