Nick Clegg must now deliver the changes in NHS policy that the Lib Dems have demanded – Harris

Responding to the overwhelming vote which called for amendments to be made to the Health Bill going through Parliament to get rid of the marketization and enhance accountability, Dr Evan Harris, who drafted the amendment, said:

“It is now incumbent on Nick and his ministerial team to deliver the major changes to the Government’s Health Policy and the significant amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill that the Liberal Democrats have overwhelming called for.”

“Because the health reforms were not in the coalition agreement, today’s vote is the only view expressed by the party on the subject, and sends a very clear message through the minister and our leader to their Conservative Coalition partners that we will not accept market reform of the health service, any fragmentation or destabilisation of NHS services by new private providers or the lack of accountability for the spending of public money envisaged in the model of GP commissioning promoted in the bill.”

“The onus is now on the Government to respond fully to the democratically expressed views of the Liberal Democrats.”

The amendments to the motion were carried virtually unopposed – but we are still gathering support for them. If you are a Liberal Democrat and would like to support to the amendments (which you can read in full here), please contact admin@socialliberal.net so we can add you to our growing list of signatories.

The final agreed motion is on the Party website.

Posted in blog archive, Uncategorized
4 comments on “Nick Clegg must now deliver the changes in NHS policy that the Lib Dems have demanded – Harris
  1. Alan Ray-Jones says:

    I write as a Lib Dem member who has recently had to make use of an NHS hospital for a serious problem and found the hospital service magnificent. If my cancer is not cured it will be because my GP didn’t refer me in time. GPs are not skilled managers and find it difficult to cope adequately with their wide-ranging medical responsibilities, so I find the whole idea of making GPs responsible for the greater part of the NHS budget unconvincing and alarming.

    I would expect at the very least that such a major re-organisation should be included in the pre-election manifestos of the political parties and be thoroughly debated before a general election; and that the Minister in charge would be very careful that all the changes proposed were clearly explained to the public and shown to be evidence based. Instead, the parties were silent on the issue until they had been elected, and Andrew Lansley appears arrogant when dealing with the media who ask questions on behalf of all of us, generally answering questions with assertions rather than evidence. He asserts that NHS outcomes are inferior to other European health service outcomes. He may be right, but even so – before the subject is debated in Parliament – I would expect to find – at least on the internet – a UK government document giving detailed comparisons of costs and benefits with descriptions of the management structures in each country. I can find nothing of the sort.

    David Cameron reminds us that Andrew Lansley was shadow Health Minister for 5 years before becoming Health Minister. He has had plenty of time to prepare, so why is he so poor at putting the case? Is it because it is a poor case? I expect Nick Clegg to prevent Lansley wrecking the NHS or introducing a cost-saving race to the bottom, preferably by delaying any major changes until after the next general election.

    Alan Ray-Jones

  2. Dr David Stevens says:

    Misuse of outcome data to justify proposed NHS changes
    Cancer survival figures are a weapon often brought in to justify proposed changes to the NHS by Cameron et al who have little or no knowledge or interest in epidemiology or research methodology but unashamedly misuse data. You might be interested in this letter sent to the BMJ by the Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Oxford.

    Re:Erroneous extrapolations?
    • Klim McPherson, Professor of public health epidemiology
    Oxford University
    Re: Does poor health justify NHS reform?. Appleby 342:doi:10.1136/bmj.d566
    Does poor health justify NHS reforms?
    Appleby (BMJ 2011;342:d566) questions the dominant assumption that the UK’s poor health outcome renders the NHS reforms necessary. He ends by pointing out that observed differences in cancer survival rate, cited all the time as an indictment of UK cancer health care, may reflect variations in methods of early diagnosis and not the state of health care in the UK. We have adjusted for registration methodological artefact between countries and find that survival rates for the two common cancers – breast and colorectal – are far from worst among six comparable countries (Cancer survival across countries, Klim McPherson, Martin Brown (BMJ 8 March 2011 rapid response to Beral V. and Peto R. UK cancer survival statistics. BMJ 2010; 341:c4112)
    In the report of Coleman et al (Coleman M et al Cancer survival in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK Lancet 2001; 377:127 -38) the UK was a poor sixth for both cancers. After adjustment the UK is 4th, but more importantly the difference in the 5year survival rates between countries narrow importantly to a few percentage points. These differences can be of little real significance, and it is time the unadjusted survival data were no longer misused by politicians.
    Klim McPherson
    New College, University of Oxford OX1 3BN

  3. Dr David Stevens says:

    Misuse of outcome data to justify proposed NHS changes. The misuse of outcome data does not in itself mean the proposed NHS changes are wrong just that the misuse of outcome data should not be used to justify the need for change.

    Cancer survival figures are a weapon often brought in to justify proposed changes to the NHS by Cameron et al who have little or no knowledge or interest in epidemiology or research methodology but unashamedly misuse data. You might be interested in this letter sent to the BMJ by the Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Oxford. I quote it below.

    Re:Erroneous extrapolations?
    • Klim McPherson, Professor of public health epidemiology
    Oxford University
    Re: Does poor health justify NHS reform?. Appleby 342:doi:10.1136/bmj.d566
    Does poor health justify NHS reforms?
    Appleby (BMJ 2011;342:d566) questions the dominant assumption that the UK’s poor health outcome renders the NHS reforms necessary. He ends by pointing out that observed differences in cancer survival rate, cited all the time as an indictment of UK cancer health care, may reflect variations in methods of early diagnosis and not the state of health care in the UK. We have adjusted for registration methodological artefact between countries and find that survival rates for the two common cancers – breast and colorectal – are far from worst among six comparable countries (Cancer survival across countries, Klim McPherson, Martin Brown (BMJ 8 March 2011 rapid response to Beral V. and Peto R. UK cancer survival statistics. BMJ 2010; 341:c4112)
    In the report of Coleman et al (Coleman M et al Cancer survival in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK Lancet 2001; 377:127 -38) the UK was a poor sixth for both cancers. After adjustment the UK is 4th, but more importantly the difference in the 5year survival rates between countries narrow importantly to a few percentage points. These differences can be of little real significance, and it is time the unadjusted survival data were no longer misused by politicians.
    Klim McPherson
    New College, University of Oxford OX1 3BN

  4. Evan Harris says:

    Thanks to Alan Ray-Jones and to Dr Stevens for their very interesting posts.

    I agree with both Alan on his views and with David for his useful reference to the Macpherson letter on misuse of statistics by the Government to seek to justify their changes. This practice by the government has been exposed by Ben Goldacre and others.

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Nick Clegg must now deliver the changes in NHS policy that the Lib Dems have demanded – Harris"
  1. [...] The public aren’t keen on the proposals, while healthcare professionals and NHS employees are opposed. The Labour party is now opposing not only some of the new NHS plans and the pace of change, but even those policies which it espoused in government, such as an NHS market and an absence of local democratic oversight. Organisations such as the NHS Confederation, the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund all have serious criticisms to make of key aspects of the health and social care bill. But for the government as a whole and the Conservative party in particular, the biggest problem they face is the opposition of the Liberal Democrats to significant parts of the changes, expressed in very clear terms overwhelmingly at our party conference in Sheffield on 12 March. [...]

  2. [...] The public aren’t keen on the proposals, while healthcare professionals and NHS employees are opposed. The Labour party is now opposing not only some of the new NHS plans and the pace of change, but even those policies which it espoused in government, such as an NHS market and an absence of local democratic oversight. Organisations such as the NHS Confederation, the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund all have serious criticisms to make of key aspects of the health and social care bill. But for the government as a whole and the Conservative party in particular, the biggest problem they face is the opposition of the Liberal Democrats to significant parts of the changes, expressed in very clear terms overwhelmingly at our party conference in Sheffield on 12 March. [...]

  3. [...] Again, health is a good example. Last September Charles West, a retired Shropshire GP, submitted a motion critical of the health white paper. The FCC did not select this motion for debate – in retrospect clearly an error as it would have prevented the Health bill problems that followed. After the Bill was published, The GP submitted another motion, backed by a record 70 delegates, for the March conference, which criticised many aspects of the bill. The FCC rejected it in favour of one submitted by Paul Burstow, the health minister, and seconded by Richard Kemp, a Liverpool councillor, which did not criticise the bill. Undeterred, West submitted an amendment, with a record number of signatories, which was overwhelmingly backed by the conference. [...]

  4. [...] Again, health is a good example. Last September Charles West, a retired Shropshire GP, submitted a motion critical of the health white paper. The FCC did not select this motion for debate – in retrospect clearly an error as it would have prevented the Health bill problems that followed. After the Bill was published, The GP submitted another motion, backed by a record 70 delegates, for the March conference, which criticised many aspects of the bill. The FCC rejected it in favour of one submitted by Paul Burstow, the health minister, and seconded by Richard Kemp, a Liverpool councillor, which did not criticise the bill. Undeterred, West submitted an amendment, with a record number of signatories, which was overwhelmingly backed by the conference. [...]

  5. [...] the bill. Undeterred, West submitted an amendment, with a record number of signatories, which was overwhelmingly backed by the conference.Being an amendment, it could not set out the full position, so West submitted yet another motion in [...]

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