I have trust issues when it comes to Andrew Lansley and his Health and Social Care Bill.
Mr Lansley swears blind that introducing competition will not only bring in better patient care, but will drive costs down as well.
The problem is, so much of the medical profession opposes it – including huge numbers of GPs, the people who are meant to benefit the most – that one has to be sceptical.
Also, if his Bill is so healthy, why is he – even now – refusing to publish the Department of Health’s risk report? This is the document that the Information Commissioner ordered him to release last November; according to the law (as I understand it) he is committing a criminal act by failing to publish.
I read today on the Green Benches blog that the report contains a very serious warning that Lansley’s changes will spark a surge in healthcare costs and that the NHS will become unaffordable as private profiteers siphon off money for their own benefit.
It may also warn specifically that GPs have no experience or skills to manage costs effectively.
This is a very serious matter. It means Mr Lansley – who has already criminalised himself over this, let’s not forget – could be attempting to mislead Parliament.
But let’s not get carried away. This is all speculation.
So, let’s make a constructive suggestion.
If Mr Lansley is so adamant that his Bill is going to be good for both patient care and the nation’s finances, let’s see him build a few safeguards into it.
Isn’t it time we asked what mechanism is built into the Bill to ensure that, if costs skyrocket and the quality of patient care plummets, Mr Lansley’s changes will be reversed, and the system brought back under control?
Isn’t it time we asked what penalties Mr Lansley himself will face, if the report is published after the Bill is passed and (as many fear) reveals exactly what the Green Benches blog mentions?
Isn’t it time the Tories made an effort to suggest they can be trusted to do the right thing for a change, instead of merely doing what’s right-wing?
There is also an Early Day Motion here which states “That this House expects the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill reforms in advance of Report Stage in the House of Lords in order to ensure that it informs that debate.”
Early Day Motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, but very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions and I shall be calling on my own MP to support this one.
If you agree, go thou and do likewise.