As one of those involved in the campaign to persuade our local MP to vote against the Tories’ so-called ‘reforms’ to the NHS, two facts clearly emerged from talking to members of the public in Terminus Road on Saturday, September 3.
Firstly, the overwhelming support and pride in the NHS which most people clearly feel. Secondly, the almost total ignorance over just what these costly and unnecessary changes signify.
The cleverly-constructed red herring of the abortion issue effectively distracted attention away from the real object of Andrew Lansley’s Bill, which is the privatisation by stealth of the NHS.
The crucial matter of dropping the Secretary of State’s (and by extension the government’s) overall responsibility for the NHS is the most disturbing of many disastrous aspects of the bill.
This would effectively privatise the NHS by placing it in the hands of a commissioning board unaccountable and unanswerable to anyone, the end of the NHS as we know it.
As there is nothing in the election manifesto of either party in the coalition government to support these fundamental changes, one would have expected the Liberal Democrats to oppose such proposals.
Sadly, apart from a few honourable exceptions, this was not the case, as most Lib Dems pusillanimously voted in favour, including our local MP.
Apparently he was ‘minded’ to support a Labour amendment which would have defined the powers of the Secretary of State more closely but was persuaded on the word of the minister that ‘when the Bill goes to the Lords, further clarifications will be made to put beyond legal doubt the Secretary of State remains accountable for the comprehensive health service we all cherish’. So that’s alright then, we can all relax.
I hope those voters who were persuaded at the last general election that voting for a Lib Dem would be the best way of getting rid of an unpopular Tory MP are happy with the outcome.
As everyone knows, the NHS never would have been safe in Tory hands, but who would have believed that the Lib Dems would collude in its break up with quite such spineless acquiescence.