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Published on May 27th, 2011 | by Seamus Macleod
Image © [caption id="attachment_2211" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Nick Clegg - 'Saviour' of the NHS"]Nick Clegg [/caption] Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms to the NHS suffered further setbacks yesterday. The bill, which sought to increase competition within the NHS and put increased budgetary responsibility in the hands of GPs, had been delayed for a listening exercise following strong opposition from the British Medical Association, the NHS Confederation, and of course the Labour Party. The two-month period set aside to listen was approaching its end when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dramatically announced that the entire bill would be returned to the committee stage for re-evaluation. This will mean a significant delay even if the bill re-emerges intact and is a serious blow to Mr. Lansley’s credibility. His target of abolishing primary care trusts by 2013 is unlikely to be met and was derided as an “arbitrary deadline” by Mr. Clegg. Also announced was assurance that Monitor – the body that would regulate GP consortiums – would be re-imagined as a protector of patients rather than a promoter of competition and a u-turn on the intention to open up the NHS to any willing provider. The issue of NHS reform has been a thorn in Mr. Cameron’s side since Mr. Lansley’s plans were published. Meddling with the much beloved NHS is politically perilous and the health service is one of the key policy areas where Labour are consistently more trusted than the Tories. Given the strength of opposition that had developed from medical interest groups and frontline staff this retreat may have saved the Conservatives from a bloody battle but yet another u-turn is likely to exacerbate the perception that Mr. Cameron is governing impetuously. Mr. Clegg’s relatively newfound opposition to Mr. Lansley’s reforms are likely a response to the punishment exacted by the electorate on the Liberal Democrats in local and devolved elections early in May. Universally disastrous results for Mr. Clegg’s party have revealed a need for the Lib Dems to distinguish themselves from their coalition partners or face division or even annihilation in a future general election. As Mr. Clegg sallies forth to ward off the privations of perceived privatisation of the NHS he must be hoping that the voters who recently abandoned his party take note.

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A listening government, yet another u-turn, or muscular liberalism? NHS Reform bill sent back to committee!

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg – 'Saviour' of the NHS

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms to the NHS suffered further setbacks yesterday. The bill, which sought to increase competition within the NHS and put increased budgetary responsibility in the hands of GPs, had been delayed for a listening exercise following strong opposition from the British Medical Association, the NHS Confederation, and of course the Labour Party. The two-month period set aside to listen was approaching its end when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dramatically announced that the entire bill would be returned to the committee stage for re-evaluation.

This will mean a significant delay even if the bill re-emerges intact and is a serious blow to Mr. Lansley’s credibility. His target of abolishing primary care trusts by 2013 is unlikely to be met and was derided as an “arbitrary deadline” by Mr. Clegg. Also announced was assurance that Monitor – the body that would regulate GP consortiums – would be re-imagined as a protector of patients rather than a promoter of competition and a u-turn on the intention to open up the NHS to any willing provider.

The issue of NHS reform has been a thorn in Mr. Cameron’s side since Mr. Lansley’s plans were published. Meddling with the much beloved NHS is politically perilous and the health service is one of the key policy areas where Labour are consistently more trusted than the Tories. Given the strength of opposition that had developed from medical interest groups and frontline staff this retreat may have saved the Conservatives from a bloody battle but yet another u-turn is likely to exacerbate the perception that Mr. Cameron is governing impetuously.

Mr. Clegg’s relatively newfound opposition to Mr. Lansley’s reforms are likely a response to the punishment exacted by the electorate on the Liberal Democrats in local and devolved elections early in May. Universally disastrous results for Mr. Clegg’s party have revealed a need for the Lib Dems to distinguish themselves from their coalition partners or face division or even annihilation in a future general election. As Mr. Clegg sallies forth to ward off the privations of perceived privatisation of the NHS he must be hoping that the voters who recently abandoned his party take note.

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