I was reminded of this conversation reading Benedict Brogan’s excellent Daily Telegraph blog (@benedictbrogan) today where he comments ‘Mr Cameron is now opposed by the nurses and doctors in a way that the public might begin to notice’
To those of us with any inside knowledge of the NHS and how it works (or doesn’t), the shortcomings of the Bill have haunted us daily – but the public so far have been oblivious to the realities of this top down restructure. In our press they see horror stories of inadequate care, limited resources and nightmare scenarios for hospital patients. They read of waste, poor standards and treatment rationing. Yes, most of these stories are true, but the situation is unlikely to be improved by these reforms. How can ‘the man in the street’ possibly understand what’s really going on?
Although I try to avoid politics in this blog, this coalition government has shown some weakness in a desire to please everyone. I wonder how long it will be before public opinion starts to sway Westminster on the Health Bill. Unfortunately this is where the opponents to the Bill have made their biggest mistake. The public are not impressed with strikes by NHS workers demanding that their pensions and jobs are protected in a way that those outside the public sector can only dream. Although Andrew Lansley, the UK Secretary of State has failed spectacularly in his narrative to clinicians and NHS administrators, his sound bites have, so far, persuaded the public that giving GPs the lion share of power and budget control is the way forward (even though the Royal College of Physicians do not support this Bill).
One of the comments on posted by a wise reader of this blog states that the public are too concerned with paying their mortgages and riding the recession to be bothered with the arguments offered by the Bill’s detractors. This is where Lansley has got it right and the Bill’s opponents have missed their chance. The Coalition is still backing the Bill. It may have a rocky ride through the Lords and the Commons but, again as Brogan writes ‘Cameron has shed too much blood to back down on health reform’.
I hope I’m wrong but I believe it is too late to muster public support.
Lansley will have his way.