Thursday, 21 July 2011

NHS Debate Re-opens

For now the Hacking scandal is having a relatively quiet time, but an old favourite has popped back into the news again recently, the NHS reforms.

The row over NHS reforms looks set to reopen, and more publicly than ever.

People may remember the recent listening period that the government held when their proposed changes to the NHS were met with fierce opposition from both the medical profession and the public. After intensive lobbying from the BMA, RCN, and RCGP they agreed to substantial changes.

This would all seem positive, but the problem now is that the changed bill is a complete and utter mess. It is a confused bureaucratic nightmare, with no-one being quite sure what its aim is.

The changes even prompted this motion from a  recent BMA Council meeting, "[this council] rejects the idea that the Government's proposed changes to the Bill will significantly reduce the risk of further marketisation and privatisation of the NHS."

That's why the BMA, the association representing 140,000 doctors, has again stated that it is opposed to the bill, despite the changes, and that it would be better for the bill to be withdrawn altogether.

The biggest news from the BMA meeting was that it agreed to start a 'public campaign to call for the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill.' It seems that far from the easy ride through the commons Cameron had hoped for, there will be an almighty battle for public support.

As well as this, the campaigning group 38 degrees, with 850,000 members, have restarted their campaign against the bill, raising £10,000 (in fact, at last check it was over £30,000) within hours which will be used to hire a legal team to look through the bill line by line, looking for any hidden dangers.

With trust in politics in serious decline after Hackgate, and the Medical profession being the most trusted, I hardly think there will be much appetite in the government for a fight with the BMA. It will be interesting to see how much political capital Cameron is prepared to lose in order to pass the bill.

Without a Lib Dem backlash, which seems unlikely, he will probably manage to pass some form of bill, but what it contains, and how much he loses in the process, remains to be seen.

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