NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Health bill in fresh trouble as first signs of cabinet dissent emerge

Plans being laid for call at Liberal Democrat spring conference for bill to be scrapped

The government’s beleaguered health bill has run into fresh trouble after it emerged that plans are being laid for a call for it to be scrapped at the Liberal Democrat spring conference.

It is also expected that the influential Conservative Home website, seen as the voice of the party grassroots, will publish an editorial on Friday calling for the bill to be dropped altogether. It is understood that Conservative Home has been urged to make the call by three cabinet members who believe David Cameron is not listening on the issue. One source said: “We have almost been instructed to write this.” It is extraordinary that cabinet members feel so frustrated at the political deadlock that they have resorted to urging Conservative Home to raise the flag of rebellion.

It has been widely canvassed within the government that non-contentious parts of the bill covering public health, social care and GP commissioning could be retained, while controversial parts dealing with an extension of the private sector could be abandoned altogether, something that would be a humiliation for the health secretary, Andrew Lansley.
… [informative article]

 

Lib Dem group launches in protest against Tory-led coalition

Liberal Left group aims to mobilise opposition against ‘drift to the right’, claiming the mood in the party is radicalising

The first Liberal Democrat group openly opposed to the coalition is to be launched at the party’s spring conference in Gateshead next month with a warning that the coalition has been a political disaster for the party, as well as a denial of its radical roots.

Launching a website on Wednesday, the group Liberal Left said it hoped to become a rallying point for members opposed to the coalition and those who see the party as a centre-left organisation seeking common cause with Labour, Greens and others on the centre left.

One of its founders, Richard Grayson, conceded that the vast majority of the party was committed to the coalition and denied the group would be working to put a motion to conference calling for the Liberal Democrats to withdraw from its partnership with the Conservatives. He said the focus was more on developing policies on the centre left, and creating a space for a coalition with Labour if necessary after a general election.

Most of the group’s founder members have long been opposed to the coalition, but it believes other party members will join, and the mood of the party is radicalising. Grayson said Liberal Left differed from the other well-established left group inside the party – the Social Liberal Forum – in that it opposed the coalition, and did not agree that the party should be politically equidistant between Conservatives and Labour.

In its strongly worded founding statement, Liberal Left asserts: “We articulate policy positions within the Liberal Democrats which should be central to a radical party. Such policies have informed recent general election manifestos which our candidates have stood, and on which our MPs have been elected.

“Those views are not being currently voiced effectively in a party whose radical traditions have become muted in government and whose leaders have taken the party’s policy positions to the right. We are now part of a government which is Eurosceptic, neo-liberal and socially conservative.”

NHS backs down in dramatic court battle over services

NHS bosses have backed down in their battle with campaigners fighting major changes in Gloucestershire.

This afternoon at the Royal Courts of Justice NHS Gloucestershire and claimant Michael Lloyd issued a joint statement.

It reads: “Both parties agree that the public of Gloucestershire deserve the best possible NHS services.

We recognise the need for efficient use of public funds and believe that an end to legal proceedings is in everyone’s interest – particularly patients.

NHS Gloucestershire is pleased to be able to report that it has agreed terms to settle the Judicial Review brought by Gloucestershire resident, Mr Michael Lloyd.

The PCT recognises that it is important to maintain the confidence of patients, public and staff in decisions made concerning NHS services in our county.

Accordingly, and in view of the matters raised in court and without in any way accepting that there is merit in the legal complaints made by Mr Lloyd, the PCT has agreed not to implement its decision to enter into a contract with GCS at this time.

The PCT has agreed that it will start a new process to explore the best option for providing community services in Gloucestershire. As part of that process, NHS Gloucestershire will advertise for expressions of interest for the provision of NHS services in Gloucestershire.

The PCT will take necessary steps to ensure an appropriate level of staff and public engagement.

Unite threatens new NHS pension strike ballot

The Unite trade union says it may hold a fresh strike ballot of its 100,000 members in the NHS over their continuing pension dispute.

The union’s leadership has already rejected a draft agreement proposed by the government in December.

In November, staff throughout the public sector staged a national one-day strike against the proposed changes.

Since then, union opposition has become divided, with some agreeing to further talks which others have rejected.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Fire Brigades Union are also threatening to strike over proposed changes to their pension scheme.

They said there would be a “rapid move” towards a strike ballot after finding the government’s proposals “unacceptable”.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey said: “There have been no substantive changes from what was on the table before Christmas – our hard-working members will still be expected to pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.”

“‘Our members are deeply unhappy at the government’s stance and we will be holding a consultative ballot to reaffirm our members’ position – the prospect of further strike action will be very real, unless ministers move on their hardline position.”

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