One of the most senior doctors in the Department of Health today launches a scathing attack on Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms, claiming that they will raise costs, increase bureaucracy and destroy the key relationships that make the health service work.
Sir Roger Boyle, who retired as the Government's National Director of Heart Disease at the weekend, accuses the Health Secretary of squandering past gains in treatment because of his obsession with opening up the NHS to private contractors.
Sir Roger said: "The allegiances [of the private companies] will be to their shareholders, not to the users of the services. If the market was going to work, the Americans would have cracked it. Where is the evidence that competition between commercial providers makes a blind bit of difference to cost efficiency and quality?
"The competition I want to see is between clinicians vying with each other over whose service is the best. I absolutely think the NHS is the best public service in the world. It is horrific that its future is threatened."
Sir Roger's views are known to be widely shared in the department, across the profession and among MPs, and suggest the Government's revised NHS Bill will have a bumpy ride when it returns to the Commons.
Sir Roger says Mr Lansley had not bothered to visit him until a fortnight ago, despite his success in halving heart-disease death rates and slashing waiting times in the past decade. He suggested he was only given a meeting with Mr Lansley after he had made a speech criticising NHS reforms. "Miraculously, I found myself in his office," said Sir Roger. "His aides were debating whether they could sack me before they discovered I was going anyway. Lansley said he was disappointed I had gone public without telling him. Except he could have found out if he'd bothered to see me."
Health Minister Simon Burns said: "Modernising the NHS will both safeguard the future of our health service, and deliver a world-class service that puts patients at the heart of everything it does."Reuse content