Lib Dems demand changes to the Health and Social Care Bill

Please read this statement and sign it below

[Note:The Social Liberal Forum is hosting this petition for the movers of the amendment at Conference]

Liberal Democrat members and activists – Demanding changes to the Health and Social Care Bill

Our Federal Party Conference last month overwhelmingly backed a call from Shirley Williams, Dr Evan Harris and 150 others, calling for Andrew Lansley’s health reforms to be significantly amended to bring the policy back in line with the agreed Coalition Agreement and with Lib Dem principles.

Specifically we seek amendments to:

a) ensure the Health Secretary has a duty to provide a fully comprehensive and free health service, with no gaps and no new charges
b) provide more local democratic accountability for the health service
c) curb the market obsession of the proposed reforms to prevent quality being relegated behind price and prevent the cherry-picking of profitable services by the private sector undermining and fragmenting existing provision
d) slow down the pace of change so that the NHS, facing its toughest settlement for decades, does not implode from the stress of another massive reorganisation

The changes to the health bill required by conference are set out in full here. They do not preclude other changes that may be needed but which were not covered by the conference motion as amended.

We are calling on our party’s leadership to fully respect the declared view of the Party on this matter and insist on all these changes in the health policy in any discussions with the Conservatives.

We believe it would be unacceptable for Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to be whipped to vote against conference policy and to vote in support of Tory policies that were not included the coalition agreement and that we have democratically rejected.

Please sign this statement now by filling in the form below. Please circulate it to your local party.

View signatures

52 comments on “Lib Dems demand changes to the Health and Social Care Bill
  1. Rebekah Gronowski says:

    The Party Members have spoken at the Federal Conference. It is now time for the Party Leadership in Government to listen to what OUR Members want to be implemented. We need to have much more of a restraining hand on the excesses of the Tories in Government and we need to put the brake on their proposed swingeing cuts in the NHS and other areas. The Party Members put the Leadership into Government, now listen to what we have to say.

  2. Mark Collins says:

    I support the proposers of this motion 110%. There is no democratic mandate for these changes, many of which will have a negative impact on the people of Hove.

    We must push for greater accountability? Yes. We need to cut back on beauracracy? Yes. We can do better? Yes. But we cannot do is sit back and watch the market privatise one of the greatest instiutions in the world.

    The Liberal Democrats must stand fast and hold firm on the NHS. It is the jewel in the British Society Crown, a true representation of the Hippocratic Oath, where everyone can get treatment regardless of ability to pay. I owe my life to the NHS, and will not see it dismantled.

  3. cllr. juliet solomon says:

    I think this is really the last chance we have to demonstrate that we really can make a difference. If we don’t push this one very hard, an awful lot of us will be wondering why we are bothering to be part of a coalition and not just heading back to the wilderness where at least we don’t have to behave like right-wingers.

    Juliet Solomon

  4. Andrew Tucker says:

    I was dismayed by James Lansdale’s report that the Deputy PM would be “selling the NHS reform bill”. Not until he’s secured the changes the party is seeking, he shouldn’t.

  5. Tony Ayres says:

    “Specifically we seek amendments to . . .” above has as typo in (a), which should be “has” rather than “had”.

  6. Maryreid says:

    Thanks, Tony – correction made

  7. Brian Dash says:

    We have already been sold down the river on Education. We are keeping a more right wing government than Thatcher’s in office. It’s crunch time

  8. Philip Latham says:

    We have to win this battle. I hope that it will have a galvanising effect and make us really understand where and what we stand for. Let us have no more talk about the end of ideology. The party must hold the leadership to account on this. We have a history of doing this and taking the appropriate action. We have worked too hard – the grassroots – to return to the political wilderness

  9. Dr Derek Jeary says:

    Too much is being put onto GP’s who have not been convinced that these proposed changes will bring anything other than mayhem to our NHS. Put it back a year-at least!

  10. Les Jones says:

    As a radical social liberal I find much that our Party is doing as part of the Government very disturbing. We must make a stand on this one, for the sake of all the activists who have worked for principle over more years than one would care to count.

  11. David Harding-Price says:

    After 35 years working in the NHS as a nurse and having quit the Tories and joined the Liberals in early 1980s when Thatcher started on her destruction of the NHS I am disgusted that we are supporting the Tories on this one. The NHS is the most valuable possession this country has, it keeps people fit and healthy so they can work and so contribute to the wider fabric of society.

  12. Chris Sams says:

    They cannot ignore the party members or our vote. The NHS is to important to mess up and could cost lives.

  13. Cllr Bill Gifford says:

    The proposed changes to the NHS seem to believe that “the Market” is the cure for all ills. In 2008 we saw the imperfections and dangers of “The Market”. The NHS needs good and sensitive management not a “Big Bang”.

  14. The NHS is such a foundation rock for our society that going off colaition agreement piste with it is just plain not acceptable.
    The one failing of the NHS has been 40years of reorganisations. Any changes need to be cross party and kept for decades with cross party fine tuning.
    We deserve the best possible NHS and we’ll never achieve it without local political accountability and most important stability.

  15. Jenny says:

    I am very worried that ad hc, rushed changes wil now be made to ‘buy off’ opponants of these upheavals. We do not need a pause and then push forward with superficial alterations but a cessation of this Bill and a return to a proper consultation with NHS users, practiononers and managers to agree the changes that are required to strenghthen the NHS and improve its performance.

  16. Dorothy says:

    Can I make it clear that I do believe the NHS needs serious reform and that I believe it needs to be radical ; why I have signed this is because the current proposals appear to please very few and are seriously worrying very many. . It was not endorsed by either party in their manifestoes and is being pushed through too quickly and with a blind eye and a deaf ear to those voices we should at least be listening to and giving time to consider their very real concerns. The” country” should be behind any radical reform and really see the benefits there are some things that are that importnat and the NHS is one of them.

  17. Cllr. Alan Craw says:

    The matter of democratic accountability has not been addressed in sufficient detail. The proposed “Health & Wellbeing” boards will be a waste of time unless their deliberations are open to public scrutiny by local councillors. However, this is yet another burden on the councillor who works at a job, and has less and less time.
    That having been said, the edifice is in serious need of reform.

  18. Cllr Ben Ord says:

    The NHS should be free at the point of delivery and give equal value to all citizens who live in the UK. Why should we have free perscriptions in Scotland etc and not England. Why are staff and patients charged to park at the NHS Hospital, where they work?
    I consider that GP’s should have more say and that the PCT’s were “Empire Building” and diverted money from frontline services. We should have pilot schemes prior to any major changes to the NHS. However, there is room for improvement. We should not need to sent patients to France to have an operation!

  19. Eddie Collict says:

    The proposed changes will soak up money that must be spend upon essential health care. What is proposed will make money for management consultants and do nothing to fight illness and disease.

    Change is needed but it must be done in a way that is thought through and at a manageable pace – so that additional resources are not taken by management and administration.

    Please keep clinicians primary doing what they were trained for. When I see a GP I want to be sure he/she is up to date on medical matters not financial!

    The problem we have with many MPs and ministers is that they have ideas but little real experience of running anything and this shows only too well.

  20. Jim Conway says:

    Well done.
    It was not in any manifesto. too rushed and poorly thought through. My worry is privatisation.
    No need to restructure the NHS at the moment.

  21. Dennis Gerrard says:

    Enough management control as it is.
    What is proposed will further stifle initiative to get the best possible

  22. Maurice Little says:

    The proposed reforms were not in any election manifesto and are potentially the most damaging to the NHS in its entire history.If the Lib Dems can not stop stop them they should dissolve the coalition-if they do not I and many others will simply resign in despair and disgust.

  23. Geoff Harris says:

    The NHS should evolve continuously with its procedures constantly reviewed in the light of current circumstances. Throwing everything up in the air each time the government changes is criminal, wasting resources needed for healthcare, causing confusion and anxiety in patients and their relatives, destroying careers and putting in jeopardy the whole concept of a national service free at the point of delivery. Lansley’s proposals, if implemented, guarantee that a further upheaval with these consequences will follow the next general election.

  24. tim says:

    this is worthwhile and is essential to keep services accountable

  25. David says:

    Such major changes will probably leave the whole process in the hands of a mutiplicity of bodies/organisations rather than the few PCT’s we have now. Expertise will be lost. Pet projects will take centre stage. In some areas local and regional variations in care quality and availabilty are certain to arise. Local control and influence by locally elected representatives will not be enough to sort it out.

  26. Matthew Huntbach says:

    The huge changes proposed here seem to have appeared from nowhere. They were not put forward in an honest way by the Conservative Party in the general election – the Conservatives ran a campaign which suggested whatever else they would do, they would leave the NHS largely untouched. They are in direct conflict with the coalition agreement which rules out large scale reorganisation of the NHS. There appears to be little desire for them amongst those who work in the NHS, or amongst the population as a whole. Large scale changes inevitably involve large scale extra cost putting them in place, and loss of efficiency as those involves deal with the upheaval, so even if they have merit, they ought not to be a priority at this time when we are told cutting immediate costs is the prime necessity.

  27. Patrcia Fearnley says:

    Changes to the NHS appear to be needed, but rushing this major proposal, is not the best way to do it..

  28. Graham Pyatt says:

    The NHS may be inefficient but it is steadily getting better and, meanwhile, is trusted by those of us who use it. Ill-conceived moves towards privatisation can only serve to damage that trust and add to the growing inequality in our society.

  29. Arthur Joseph Payne says:

    The NHS needs reform because too much money is being wasted on overbeaurocracy but reforms need to be well thought through, staged in steadily to ensure that each stage is working efficiently before moving on to the next so that the end result is efficient management of services and money. These changes are too many and far too quick to ensure any efficiency. The Government has 4 years to do this so the haste makes me very suspicious of the true intentions.

  30. Jeremy Allen says:

    The NHS is working, and it is worth paying for. While the idea of clearing away bureaucracy is eyecatching, the practicalities are untested and gung-ho to say the least. Giving GPs 80% of commissioning power beggars belief. Doctors are not administrators and should be left to do the job most of them do very well. The Tories can arrogantly clear away quangos and appeal to large swathes of the electorate, though in reality a lot of these organisations like EMDA create nearly ten times the wealth per pound spent. The UK Film Council is another example of a body scythed away with little thought about the cultural consequences. We may have live with this philistinism, but leave the NHS alone.

  31. Mike Cobley says:

    The NHS already places very highly in the rankings of the health services of western industrialised nations, therefore the purposes behind the Lansley reforms are following an agenda that has little to do with the universality and overall wellbeing of the people of Britain. I have come to the position that I no longer wish to see the reforms altered, amended, or watered-down – I want to see the proposed bill killed stone dead. If not, the coalition agreement can be considered null and void and we should then move into a post-coalition situation.

  32. Richard Wilson says:

    Currently the NHS is completely unaccountable and Liberal Democrats should be angry about about the way this vital public service is run by multiple tiers of unelected quangos, without much regard to the views of patients, residents or taxpayers. Therefore, I am very much in favour of reform to increase democratic accountability and to make frontline staff like GPs more accountable and responsible. However, it has got to be the right reform at the right pace, and I agree with 90% of what’s in this petition. We need to make sure the reforms are evolutionary.

  33. Serge Lourie says:

    As a supporter of the coalition and the agreement I have been shocked by the way the Health Service has been put into play in a most cavalier way. The proposals are ill thought through and have alrerady caused immense damage to the NNHS

    Top down reorganisations have been the bane the health service and I am ashamed that our colleagues in government have appear to be such enthusiasts for yet another unproven reorganisation

    Serge Lourie

  34. R. Underhill says:

    Andrew Lansley admitted in the Commons that he may be too close to this.
    A combination of overwork and stress, so familiar to staff, could also affect the Secretary of State.
    Many Ministers and have retired, citing health as the reason, when policy difficulties underlie their stress.
    He should get a check-up, and if advised to take a break, go on holiday, away from the Department of Health and away from the electons, leaving his deputy in charge.

  35. Dr Richard Gunstone says:

    Dont forget the £14 billion that is spent on the market machinery of tenders, invoices, contracts, adverts etc. These were not necessary before 1991 and are not now.

  36. Susan Jones says:

    I think the NHS reforms are just not required. The NHS needs a time of reflection and a period where it can evolve not face more changes and reformation. Too much change over a period of decades have left it is disaray. A time of reflection is required.

  37. Martin Brown says:

    I feel that these “reforms” have been ill thought and have been rushed through one of the flimsiest consultations for such a profound pontential social change. I am glad so many fellow Libs are up in arms about this. It would be a bretrayal of this partie’s core beliefs to allow the Tories to drag this through. What is needed is calm and considered refelction not a proposal being rushed through like a mad horse running towards a burning barn. What Andrew Lansley wants is what Tories ever since the creation of the NHS have wanted which is the destruction of the same. This was NOT in the Coalition agreement, Cameron promised before the Election that he and his party would not bugger about with the service and now they are coming out of the woodwork to break up OUR NHS. If they insist on pushing this, I hope Nick Clegg stands up with the rest of the Parliamentary party in the commons and they all ask Labour to budge up on the opposition benches.

  38. nancy jirira says:

    Funding the NHS requires a different approach and the current proposals will be divisive and bring in cherry picking by default. The NHS resources should be managed through a democratic board with NHS professionals not just the GPs as members of the Boards.
    From April 2011 GP registration is not restrained by borough boundaries – health observance ie monitoring and reporting public health will need to be changed to enable the reporting of the health of the wards as a unit for funding resources. Currently boroughs can target resources as data is available based on wards.
    Thirdly in inner city areas there are significant numbers of people who no longer have a GP, if you are not a GP user for 2 or more years you can be removed from a GP list so acute sector A&E departments become the first choice for users for primary care services. END

  39. Zia Baig says:

    The Conservative party in general election ran a campaign that they would leave the NHS. I am copletely opposed to huge changes in the present NHS. The majority is quite happy with tremendous improvments in the NHS. The proposed reforms are full of legal loopholes and could leave the health services open to exploitation by profiteering outsiders, resulting in second rate health services.

  40. Ruth Goldthorpe says:

    I do not agree with privatisation by the back door.

  41. Mary Reid says:

    SLF have been asked whether there is a paper version of this petition that can be used to collect signatures. We are asking Liberal Democrat party members only to sign the specific statement above, but there is a general one at . You can download a paper petition at that site.

  42. Evan Harris says:

    Thanks for the supportive comments left here. Many stress the importance of getting this sorted to the future of the party.

    @Andrew Tucker – the point has been made to the DPM! Have you signed the petition?

    @ Cllr James Barber – I agree with you and I hope you will sign the petition

    @ Cllr Ben Ord, @ Dennis Gerrard, @ David, @ Pat Fearnely, @ Graham Pyatt, @ R.Underhill – our amendments deliver what you call for and I hope you will sign the statement

  43. Evan Harris says:

    @ Nancy Jirira and @ Ruth Goldthorpe – our amendments deliver what you call for and I hope you will sign the statement

  44. Alec Rickard says:

    I think the reforms are necessary. I understand concerns about these changes being rushed through and i think it is right that the government pause to pursue their ‘listening exercise’ given the very vocal opposition, especially the recent RCN vote of no confidence.

  45. Alec Rickard says:

    However, I think it is important that the concept of ‘privatising’ the NHS is more clearly defined and shown not to be true. Yes there will be an increase in the number of private services that will come under the structure of the NHS but this is because hospitals currently provide the same services at such an ineffecient level. Secondly, GP service commissioners will still be able to set the costs of services commissioned, as they are now under the PCT’s, which means selection by quality will not be sacrificed as some have implied. Finally, although the idea of private companies ‘cherry picking’ services is a legitimate one, as they will reap profits by applying for the most cost effective services, they will still provide services at a more efficient level than they are at the moment by the NHS. Given the severity of national debt and the budget deficit, i think this is the logical solution especially as it will allow NHS providers to reallocate resources towards improving the quality of existing services, most importantly, emergency and unplanned care pathways.

  46. Alec Rickard says:

    oh and for more of my thoughts on this subject and others please visit

  47. Peter Canning says:

    Mr Lansley’s proposed healthcare disreforms were resoundingly trashed at LibDem conference. I have not seen
    any information that leads me to think that they will lead to better NHS provision for brain injuries or other long-term neurological conditions, particularly those not occurring in clusters.

  48. Dr Kathryn Manning says:

    @ Alec Rickard

    I believe that it is a myth that including private services in the NHS will provide more efficient clinical care. The bottom-line of a private company is to generate profit but good clinical care is not necessarily profitable.

    Private hospitals probably do operate more efficiently than NHS hospitals: they have less complex demands on them; clinical staff often get higher pay, and their pay and other rewards is often more directly linked to throughput; and the companies need to provide a certain level of service in order to attract patients to use them.

    But when private companies provide services within the NHS it can vastly increase inefficiency: the purchaser is no longer the patient but the NHS managers, who may not always properly understand or choose value for money in a clinical context.

    Privately funded (PFI) hospitals provide good examples of this. I have worked in several, and although they may look glossy from the outside, the NHS pays large amounts of money to companies that often provide a substandard service, and the structure and hierarchy of teams becomes disrupted. Instead of cleaners being part of the ward team, they are employees of a cleaning company; likewise catering; likewise carparking etc. And patients, visitors and staff have to pay high prices for food, parking etc, the profits of which do not go back into improving the hospital but to a private company.

    • Lore says:

      I agree with Joy Gunter. In York there are a wide range of health reaetld voluntary organisations under the broad aegis of the Council for Voluntary Service. Dedicated members with wide personal knowledge of all aspects of health care, disease and disability are active in local government and NHS provider services. They contribute both formal and informal informed public and patient input, and when listened to and heard, ensure that the System works to the benefit of the community.Under the Lansley Plan many of the existing opportunities for involvement will be lost. His protestations of bottom up involvement are valueless as he does not comprehend that those with personal knowledge and experience may have the answers the bureaucrat lacks.

  49. Dr A Dickinson says:

    Lansley’s policy can be summarised as

  50. Kathleen Dumbovic says:

    Having lived in a country where Healthcare depends on the ability to pay or an employer willing to provide health insurance, I am opposed to any measure that changes the principle of the National Health Service which is free whenever it is needed. I have known people who cannot afford to access the treatment they need. This should never happen in our country. Our government has a duty to care for all citizens who need medical attention.

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