The Knife is agnostic on the latest NHS reforms, now passing into law. There’s no doubt it needs reform, ideally by binning large chunks of it and spending the money on something more useful. However, in my working lifetime, the single best change was probably GP fundholding, which at least made them behave themselves a bit better, and with the best general practices lead to some real innovation. Right now, depending a bit on where you live, the GP’s have a degree of carte blanche to do what they want. It’s not necessarily all about the patients.
In addition, what the Westminster parliament has done is set up a prospective controlled trial in healthcare delivery funded by the taxpayer: Scotland v England and Wales. Who will fare better? Sadly for research purists, its got a big confounding factor, the Barnett formula 15% uplift per capita for Scottish citizens. Even so, we’re in for an interesting experiment, especially when Politburo member Nicola Sturgeon has been badly caught out fiddling her own waiting lists statistics (typically, she’s shooting the messenger).
So, we’ll see what Lansley actually achieves, now it’s in. As quite a few people have pointed out, blanket opposition to change just makes you look silly when the change actually happens. Despite being praised by his chums, the shadow health minister, Thunderbird puppet Andy Burnham, looks a bit impotent now. Metaphorically that is.
And there’s the issue of hypocrisy and posturing. To quote a hero of this blog, Brendan O’Neill:
That many of the reforms being introduced by Lansley and Co. were first brought about by Labour, with virtually not a peep of protest from commentators and radical activists, is more than a case of gobsmacking double standards. It implicitly calls into question the entire basis of the anger currently being directed at the NHS bill. What is it really all about? It is clearly not driven by a principled opposition to marketisation in the NHS, far less by a positive proposal for a new and better way to provide excellent healthcare to the populace, but rather by narrow politicking, by campaigners’ teenage-like loathing of the Tories and their lovelorn disappointment with the Lib Dems. That’s all very sad, I’m sure, but if you are currently shedding tears over the NHS bill but said diddlysquat about The New NHS in the 1990s and 2000s, then absolutely nothing you say can be taken seriously.