Further changes to the NHS reforms
28th February 2012
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, along with Lib Dem peer, Baroness Williams, has called for further amendments to the NHS Bill, limiting competition and the role of the private sector. These changes are unlikely to be debated until late this week or early next week.
In a letter signed by them both, emphasis was placed on competition and diversity being in the "interests of the patients and not profits". The amendments are not considered to be significant but are areas where "reassurance is required". They further wrote "Given how precious the NHS is, we want to rule out beyond doubt any threat of a US-style market in the NHS... That is why we want to see changes made to this Bill that have been put forward by our Liberal Democrat team in the House of Lords to make sure that the NHS can never be treated like the gas, electricity, or water industry".
Despite these recent changes, Lib Dem health activists are still planning to put an emergency motion to the party's spring conference urging the leadership to reject the provisions of the NHS Bill. Charles West, one of the organisers, commented that despite these changes the Bill still represents "an ideological shift away from a service that is provided on the basis of need to one in which the basis is insurance and profitability".
However, Nick Clegg is confident that once these final changes have been agreed "conference can be reassured that it has finished the job it started last March and the Bill should be allowed to proceed".
Samantha Collins, a solicitor in the medical injury team at Ashton KCJ comments: "The stance of the Lib Dem activists is indicative of how little effect these recent changes will make on the public perception of this Bill. Amendments continue to be made but the bottom line is that despite numerous changes being made, these changes only go as far as touching on the concerns expressed by the public and the medical practitioners at the forefront of care within the NHS. It has been reported that the Prime Minister does not think the Bill needs these further amendments but that he was happy to provide "reassurance and clarity on issues". These amendments do not go towards changing the fundamental make up of the Bill, they just make it a little smoother around the edges. I think most will agree with Charles West: "It is too little too late"."