Do the Tories want an independent NHS or a private one ?

The Tories are proposing to introduce a Bill to Parliament which would effectively given independence to the NHS. The so called NHS Autonomy and Accountability Bill makes me wonder who will be accountable and what would it achieve ?

When the Tories were last in power they had an obsession with creating executive agencies who would themselves take the fall for government errors and mistakes, allowing Ministers to carry on regardless and never take responsibility. Famous Michael Howard got rid of Derek Lewis, the man in charge of the prison service rather than Michael Howard taking the blame for the mistakes in his department. This sort of "escape clause" that Ministers like, but the public detest, is one of the reasons why people so distrust politicians. The fact that the Tories include the word "accountability" in the Bill's name makes me think this is a plan to allow officials to take the blame, and the falls, for government ministers.

This is not to say that things have been any better under Labour. The creation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE (which seems an absolute contradiction in terms), is an example of how Labour have sought to pass of responsibility for the NHS licensing drugs so that government ministers and Labour MP's can blame those awful people at NICE rather than taking responsibility for their own government.

There is little chance of the government taking on board the Tories ideas of allowing the NHS to be more independent because in many ways, through the setting up of Primary Care Trusts (which take the blame already for local decisions), the government has allowed the NHS an element of local autonomy already.

So what is the main reason for the Tories wanting to allow the NHS to be more independent ? Those who were brought up under the Tories (and I should stress how lucky these younger Tories are who don't remember Tory governments) might be slightly suspicious and see this as the first step in Tory plans to see the NHS start charging for things more often and then opening the way for a fully privatised health service.

Okay, perhaps I am putting town and two together and coming up with five, but a leopard does not change it's spots, and we all know the Tories want to privatise health services. This is just a first step and we should all be wary.


Anonymous said...

The title is slightly misleading. Can't a private NHS be independent, also?

rob's uncle said...

'NHS AURONOMY and Acountability Bill' Autonomy, perhaps?