Sunday, March 20, 2011

Liberal Democrats to propose changes to Coaltion's health reforms

Tomorrow's Guardian reports that proposed changes to the Coalition's health reforms are being drawn up by the Liberal Democrats following the vote at the party's Spring Conference in Sheffield. The newspaper says that they are
likely to focus on areas such as ensuring that GP commissioning boards have a duty to prevent cherry-picking by the private sector, and that the boards contain locally-elected councillors or are scrutinised by councils.

They would also look at the structure, aims and membership of the proposed economic regulator, Monitor.
I am pleased that the reforms concentrate on the need for more local democracy in the NHS. Simply calling on the government to "Save the NHS" by defending professional interests, as Labour does, will not do.

Because worthwhile reforms are always likely meet with opposition from that quarter. Both Lloyd George's Health Insurance Act and the National Health Service were opposed by the British Medical Association.

An interesting question is how wedded the Conservative Party is to these reforms. They are very much Andrew Lansley's reforms, forged during his long years holding this portfolio in opposition.

Lansley undoubtedly believes in them, but it is quite possible that other Tory cabinet ministers will conclude that they are not worth the row they are going to cause. Liberal Democrat hostility may give the Tories the excuse they need to drop or water down his ideas.

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