I try to keep this blog apolitical and would struggle if pushed to give an allegiance to one party. So I am writing this post as an independent observer disappointed with three of her majesty’s government ministers. I am also writing as a healthcare evangelist – and it is impossible to separate health and politics right now.
I won’t delve too deep into today’s resignation of Liam Fox, the Minister for Defence, as there is blanket coverage already available. At best – he showed very poor judgement - at worst, broke the mistrial code regarding conflict of interest. But either way – you don’t take your mates to work with you – do you? Ministers are, or should be, leaders. And leadership can be a lonely role. I must confess that when I was an employed director I would have quite liked to have a friend in tow – even my Mum sometimes! But it’s simply not done.
Then – even more bizarrely – we have the case of Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin disposing of sensitive government documents in a park litter bin on five separate occasions. What?? I’m not a particularly over cautious individual but I shred any bill with my details on it and burn client information of it’s no longer needed. I would never, ever, ever dispose of anything remotely private in a public bin! Letwin is guilty of extreme stupidity. If his judgment is so poor on something as fundamental as confidentiality – Heaven knows what other imbecilic things he gets up to. He has to go
And finally – oh dear. Andrew Lansley – the beleaguered Health Minister. I have no doubt that Lansley is an honourable and intelligent man who genuinely believes that his reforms are the right way forward. But for nearly a year now he has consistently ignored the views of the experts in health – the consultants, nurses, GPs, therapists and managers who all tell him that the Health and Social Care Bill isn’t the way to solve the NHS woes. He is fixated on a solution that does not actually address the problem and this intransigence is now actively damaging the state provision.
But the killer blow for me was Lansley’s performance at BBC’s flagship discussion programme, Question Time. Questions are posed by a public audience to a panel of politicians and ‘thought leaders’ and the audience have an opportunity to join in the debate. With Lansley on the panel, of course health came up. The question logically enough was something along the lines of ‘when so many medical institutions and clinicians are against the NHS reforms, is it wise to go ahead?’ Lansley’s response was measured. Then a member of the audience, a health worker, very calmly and eloquently gave her opinion, finishing with ‘Mr Lansley, I don’t trust you’. I’m not sure if Lansley knew the camera was on him – but he sneered at this woman with undisguised contempt.
It was actually quite chilling. Twitter went ballistic demonstrating very clearly that I wasn’t the only person to notice that the one thing NHS staff and Andrew Lansley have in common is a mutual and reciprocal dislike and disrespect. In that split second, 8 million viewers saw what Lansley thinks of many of the 1.5 million NHS workers for whom he has a responsibility. He is so disconnected from this population and apparently dismissive of their views that he didn’t even hide his feelings.
If a CEO of a large corporation loses the respect of his staff and ploughs a furrow not in the best interest of that organisation – the board would normally dismiss him. And so it is with the
Secretary of State for Health. UK
It’s time for Andrew Lansley to go.