GP fund-holding has helped to rejuvenate the National Health Service. Indeed, it represents the most significant transfer of power in favour of clinical professionals and their patients since 1948.
Yet, having complained about excessive bureaucracy in the NHS, Labour now wishes to replace fund-holding with a far more bureaucratic system of committees. The basis of its approach is that, apparently, GPs cannot be trusted with real decision-making power; we have to be given only "notional budgets" instead.
Labour's fundamental concern appears to be their belief that fund-holding has created a "two-tier" service. However, it fails to recognise that the improvements that fund-holders have pioneered for their patients have often spread to the benefit of other patients too. By releasing the forces of innovation, fund-holding has led to substantial improvements in the care which all patients receive. This process will be accelerated by the Government's plan to extend fund-holding.
Labour's apparent desire to abolish excellence in all its forms - to level down rather than level up - betrays a lasting fondness for the misguided tenets of "old Labour". It is ironic that, in his desire to strike a populist note on the health service, Tony Blair remains oblivious to this fact.
Croase Orchard Surgery
19 JuneReuse content