Friday, 16 July 2010

Tory Lies

The Tories have announced plans to restructure the NHS (1), as always under the banner of cutting bureaucracy, breaking up the (supposedly) inefficient command model, and giving doctors more power. This is misleading fluff - doctors are contractors to the NHS, so they already have power. They may operate privately, if they wish.

But beyond that, the Tories are reneging on what they said before the election, that they would not seek to restructure the NHS:
There was also disagreement over the organisation of the health service. The Conservatives said they wanted to avoid another major restructuring. "One of the fundamental things that has gone wrong with the National Health Service in the last decade is constant reorganisation - nine in ten years," Simmonds said. "We need to allow the NHS to bed down so both clinical professionals and management professionals can get on with doing what they want to do, which is to look after patients and improve the quality of patient care." (2)
That's Mark Simmonds, then Shadow Minister for Health, speaking at a debate hosted by the New Statesman and Pfizer. The debate took place immediately prior to the election on the 6th of May - the New Statesman published its account of it on the 5th.

There's an obvious mismatch between what was being said then, and what is happening now, only a few weeks later.

So, we've got three choices. Either, the Tories drew up their plans for NHS reforms since they were elected, in spite of having campaigned on a pledge to avoid restructuring the long suffering health service. Or, they already had these plans drawn up, and Simmonds lied. Or, Simmonds didn't know about the plans and was a hapless dupe - Andrew Lansley took over the portfolio once the coalition government was formed.

Which ever way you look at it, it comes down to this - the Tories knew that suggesting they wanted to restructure the health service would terrify the voters, and give Labour something to campaign on. So they lied to the voters.
1 - "NHS faces radical pro-market shakeup," by Randeep Ramesh. Published in the Guardian, 12th of July, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jul/12/nhs-health-reform-andrew-lansley)
2 - "Taking the nation’s pulse," by Sophie Elmhirst. Published in The Newstatesman, 5th of May, 2010. (http://www.newstatesman.com/health/2010/05/nhs-burnham-simmonds-service)

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