Andrew George: Why we Lib Dems should be opposing NHS reforms

Comment

Share
Related Topics

Last year I described the Government's Health White Paper as "an avoidable train crash". Since then, with the Health Bill published and GP commissioning consortia rolling out, I admit I was wrong. It will be far worse.

The resulting carnage of a dismembered and disintegrated health service will provide rich pickings for private companies and the unscrupulous among private GP contractors. The fractured NHS will be monumentally difficult to hold together.

Ministers have been desperately cobbling together selective statistics which they hope will demonstrate that the NHS is not as good as it could or should be. It's true and it could be a lot better. But that doesn't justify the complete trashing of all of the institutional architecture of the NHS.

Indeed, it has the risk of being disastrously wrong; because:

* It attempts the biggest re-organisation while simultaneously seeking the greatest cost savings in the 62 years of the NHS, indeed at a level never tried by any other health system anywhere in the world;

* It opens the door to profit-seeking private companies to run the easier and more profitable bits of the NHS, thus undermining the viability of many of our core public health services and hospitals;

* It risks the disintegration of the NHS at a time when everyone believes it should be more (rather than less) seamless and better integrated with social care services;

* It hands extensive powers, and most of the NHS budget, to a narrow group of private contractors – GPs, some of whom are horrified at being turned into NHS managers.

The Health Secretary's decision to press ahead with GP consortia is prejudicing decisions which have yet to be made by Parliament. It is one of the oldest tricks in Government: to do so much ground preparation work that it leaves MPs no choice other than to let it go ahead. Creating GP consortia whilst allowing the primary care trusts to be dismantled before our eyes is creating an environment in which parliamentary debate is effectively bypassed.

The pressure on GP consortia and the freedoms afforded to "any willing" private company will contribute to the break-up of services which ought to be acting together as an integrated whole.Is that really what we want for our NHS?

Andrew George is the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Several police officers walk near downtown Ottawa  

Nigel Farage on the Ottawa shooting: It could just as easily happen on the streets of London

Nigel Farage
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive  

To improve the NHS, it must stop being a political issue

Mary Dejevsky
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?