I beg to move,
That this House
notes the growing concerns over the Government’s handling of the NHS and the effect its policies are having on hospitals and patient care;
and calls on the Government to uphold the Coalition Agreement promise to stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS which have got in the way of patient care, to use the present pause in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill to make fundamental changes, including dropping the damaging and unjustified market-based approach, and to concentrate efforts instead on achieving sound efficiencies, better clinical quality and improved integration of services.
We have called this debate after the Prime Minister was forced to order an unprecedented pause in his health legislation last month. He was forced to do so because of the growing criticism, confusion and crisis of confidence over the Government’s NHS reorganisation. It was unprecedented because he told his Health Secretary to stop what he was doing while 45 others on the NHS Future Forum work out what he should be doing. It looks as though the Prime Minister is listening to anybody and everybody on the NHS except the Health Secretary.
We have called this debate after the Deputy Prime Minister’s flagship policy was sunk in the AV referendum last week. He is now trying to find a replacement, and claims that changes to the Health and Social Care Bill are his new No. 1 priority. The Deputy Prime Minister and his party are up to their necks in the Tory NHS plans. He and the Prime Minister co-signed the foreword to the White Paper last summer, and he signed off the NHS legislation in Cabinet before Christmas. He and his Lib Dem MPs have backed the Bill at every stage in Parliament. In Committee, his Lib Dem Health Minister led the rejection of Labour’s amendments—the amendments that he now says he wants to make.
Now that the Lib Dems are making many of the arguments that Labour has been making since early autumn, people may ask what the Deputy Prime Minister has been doing for the past year, when he changed his mind and why. People may suspect that the deal he is stitching together has more to do with saving his party than safeguarding the NHS.