In Support of the NHS Reforms
It’s Labour’s favourite stick to beat us with. The NHS is the one thing Conservative governments have always shied away from, allowing it to just tick along in the background. On Conservative Home Tim Montgomerie argues that this government should do the same. He calls on Cameron to ‘kill’ Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill that would see more power given to GPs, abolish Primary Care Trusts and give patients more choice in their treatment. Montgomerie argues that the bill could prove ‘fatal’ to the Conservatives election prospects in 2015.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this analysis. The NHS has not been majorly reformed since it was set up. Society is very different now to how it was in the late 1940s. People are living longer and this is putting an additional strain on the NHS. We need a more fluid, flexible healthcare system rather than the rigid one we have at the moment, which is bursting at the seams. Any change to the N HS has always been seen as sacrilege by the Left. When Tony Blair’s government introduced Foundation Trusts into the NHS, it was met by stern opposition. We were told by the Left that these reforms
would ‘kill’ the NHS and that they must be stopped at all costs. There are currently 141 Foundation Trusts in the NHS, and it’s still alive and kicking. It is one of the less controversial measures in the current bill that all NHS Trusts will become Foundation Trusts in time.
I do not try to claim that the Health and Social Care Bill is popular, it has not been explained well enough to the general public, and as a society we have come to believe that radical change to the NHS would be an unspeakable horror (especially if carried out by the Tories!). However, it is not the issue that is going to decide the next election. The performance of the economy will determine that. Montgomerie himself accepts that the NHS is not at the top of public concerns, and that only 25% of people rate it as one of the top three issues facing our country today.
The time has come to grasp the nettle, and radically reform our NHS. If we succeed, we will have a health service we can all be proud of in the 21st century. If we fail, or if we turn back because it is too ‘politically difficult,’ the strain on our rigid health service will become all the more acute.