Goodness me the nation’s health must be in peril if the Royal Colleges have kicked off their slippers and downed their pipes to emerge like Dad’s Army into the affray about the NHS reforms. All seems to rest now on those of their number who reside in the Upper House. How peculiarly English but ultimately unsatisfactory that it should come to this.
In the run up to today’s Second Reading debate of the Health and Social Care Bill, the hyperbole on both sides has been difficult if not impossible to avoid. Reading the papers feels more like a downhill ski slalom than an intellectual pursuit.
And yet, while I wish I could buy into the Independent’s middle-ground opinion that what we have witnessed with the NHS reforms is simply a failure of communication, I do feel as though a lot more is at stake than this. Heartwarmingly for me, it would seem a lot of people share this view on both sides of the debate.
It is with feelings akin to almost parental dismay that I recently learned that Julia Manning, Director of the right-leaning think-tank, 2020health.org, now blogs regularly for the Daily Mail. The ‘right’ badly needs a radical if not impactful voice on science and I hope 2020health.org will earn its stripes in due course. But Julia’s Daily Mail blog rather shot itself in the foot yesterday by saying – and I paraphrase – ‘we must not stop the Health and Social Care Bill because all the changes are underway anyway and everything will be in limbo.’ Her broadside simply served to underline how undemocratic the approach to the NHS reforms feels. And her unfair swipe at Evan Harris lacked tabloid panache.
Alternatively you could dip into or gorge upon The Guardian’s running commentary on the whole saga, including their live text-feed thingy of what is being said by whom right now. What would we do without the Guardian’s obsessive compulsive approach to these things? I have come to the conclusion that its editorial staff grew up on and rather miss the days when news junkies used to watch ceefax page 102. Occasionally, however there is a peach of an insight such as the one earlier today by Tony Blair’s former health adviser, Paul Corrigan.
If you wish to watch unadulterated coverage of the debate you can go to the parliamentlike.uk webcam here.
Meanwhile the GPs just keep on answering those surveys including the latest one from the Royal College of General Practitioners in which only 4% of their number believe that the NHS changes will result in better patient care. Not far away 84% of members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists want the Bill withdrawn – this after a group therapy session before which the level of despair was much greater. But it is a wonder that our medical colleagues have any time for patients given the number or surveys they are filling out.
If you want some of the serious stuff then Becky’s PolicyPages are their usual reliable self with the gen on the research concerns. But the penultimate word goes to National Voices (Ovarian Cancer Action has just become a member) with their five calls to Peers as the Bill heads for the vote. National Voices’ briefing to the Lords highlights five further changes the patient lobby wants to see:
- a definition of individual patient involvement
- commissioners taking advice from expert patients
- a statutory duty of candour
- strengthening HealthWatch England
- local HealthWatch organisations electing members of HealthWatch England.
I’m off to dinner in the Barry Room .