A challenge to Lib Dems on the NHS

I’ve a guilty admission. I do have a lot of time for Liberal Democrats and the old Liberal Party. Apart from my shared support for the Alternative Vote, I would cite:

  • Charles Kennedy calling it right on the Iraq War,
  • David Steel’s private members bill to give rights to abortion was a huge step forward for women.

Then we have such notables as John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge who made a huge contribution to shaping post war Britain as a mixed economy and the Welfare State.

Whilst I disagree with the VAT rise because of its effect on the poorest, I can understand that as minor partners in the Coalition they do have to make compromises. And whilst I view the coalition’s broader approach to the economy and public services as reckless, I do not judge it to be a betrayal of the Liberal heritage.

Whilst it could be considered that worries over the Liberal heritage are none of my business, I’m astounded that the Liberal Democrats are swallowing Andrew Lansley’s reforms of the NHS.

Forcing the new GP Commissioning Consortiums (Replacements for the PCTs) to tender for services is so serious that I consider it to be the most serious threat to the NHS since its inception. As Lib Dem supporting Polly Toynbee in her Guardian article describes;

“For the first time the entire NHS has been put under competition law. The financial and clinical safety of NHS foundation trusts used to be the responsibility of the regulator, Monitor. Now its website proclaims: “The first of Monitor’s three core functions is to promote competition.” That means “enforcing competition law” and “removing anti-competitive behaviour”. Few yet understand the nuclear nature of this. It compels every NHS activity to be privately tendered. If the NHS is the preferred provider, that can be challenged in the courts or referred to the Competition Commission.”

It doesn’t need Polly Toynbee to warn us that global healthcare companies will happily run loss-leader services forcing the closure of NHS services giving themselves a clear field to raise prices when the NHS is gone. This is a recipe for destroying the NHS and it goes against everything that Liberals and Labour have stood for over the last 60 years. I could never imagine that Liberal Democrats would allow this through on their watch. It’s nothing to do with defecit reduction. It’s an idealogical driven assault on the NHS and the Liberals are allowing it to take place in silence.

How are Lib Dems allowing this to happen? I genuinely don’t believe this is something Lib Dems can support. It goes against everything I’ve understood them to stand for over the years. I’d welcome Lib Democrats to explain their position. I’d welcome more their expressions of opposition to this. I am sure that had this been a majority Conservative Government, they’d have been marching with us against these reforms.

How can Lib Dems keep quiet?






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