We all know that politicians lie but as I have followed the story of the unravelling of our NHS I find it quite difficult to grasp the depths of their dishonesty and duplicity. It's one thing to be economical with the truth but to deliberately mislead the public repeatedly is altogether more serious. If a doctor were to do this in the course of his work he would be struck off the register. Perhaps we deserve the honesty rating accorded to us in public polls. Certainly politicians deserve their ranking at the very bottom.
What's new, I hear you say. We all know politicians lie. We all know it's wrong. We all know this is the way of our world and we are stuck with it. Sadly you may well be right. But what is new is that in recent days yet another enormous political lie has come to light which spells the death knell of the NHS.
If this blog has had a purpose goading me to put pen to paper early on a Sunday morning, it has been to warn and warn again of the plans of successive governments to do away with the NHS as we know it. To begin with I was something of a loan voice. Colleagues I met in the hospital corridor looked at me as if I was deranged when I told them that I thought the NHS was being privatised. If they didn't know, what hope was there that the public would grasp what is happening?
By the time of the Health and Social Care Bill many of my colleagues had woken from their slumbers and were looking for reassurance that the NHS was safe from the fragmentation and privatisation that appeared might be the main intent of the bill. And they got it.
Here are some quotes:
Andrew Lansley MP: “There is absolutely nothing in the Bill that promotes or permits the transfer of NHS activities to the private sector.”
Andrew Lansley MP, 12.02.12, letter to Clinical Commissioning Groups: “I know many of you have read that you will be forced to fragment services, or put them out to tender. This is absolutely not the case. It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that you as commissioners, not the Secretary of State and not regulators – should decide when and how competition should be used to serve your patients interests.
Simon Burns MP: “...it will be for commissioners to decide which services to tender...to avoid any doubt—it is not the Government’s intention that under clause 67 [now 75] that regulations would impose compulsory competitive tendering requirements on commissioners, or for Monitor to have powers to impose such requirements.”
Lord Howe: “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets....”
But, despite these reassurances, regulations just published break these promises. These new rules will force through privatisation whether or not the local population want it. Not only that, Monitor will have the power to force through privatisation.
But the purpose of this post is not to tell you what you already know: that politicians do not exactly tell the truth. It is to warn you, yet again, that your NHS is being sold off. It could just be that you think that's a good thing. But, even if you do, be very careful in what you wish for because, once the NHS is gone, we will never get it back.
Now you might think there is nothing you can do and all this is a fait accompli. Ordinarily you would be right as parliament does not usually even debate this sort of secondary legislation - which just shows that it was always the intent to slip this in under the public radar. But fortunately there a just a few worthy souls out there trying to do what they can to save our NHS and they have some ideas about what you can do here.
Tweets by @DrGrumble