I have dealt before on this site with the extensive account of planned NHS reform in the Conservative Green Papers and Manifesto issued before the last General Election. I have also quoted from the detailed Coalition policy document issued under the joint signatures of Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg last summer, showing how they both signed up to extensive reform.
As we are still hearing that these plans are secret Conservative ones foisted on the Lib Dems it is time to remind people that extensive NHS reform was also proposed in the Lib Dems 2010 Manifesto, which said nothing about ending privatisation or ending the Labour cuts to management. Many of the Lib Dem reform proposals are included in the joint proposals in the White Paper and enacted by the Commons in the Bill, with the full support of the Lib Dem whips.
Their Manifesto said they wanted cuts to bureaucracy and management.
“Cut the size of the Department of Health by half, abolish unnecessary quangos such as Connecting for Health, and cut the budgets of the rest, scrap Strategic Health Authorities and seek to limit the pay of top NHS managers so that none are paid more than the PM”
They favoured the type of devolution of power to front line staff also proposed by Mr Lansley and incorporated in the reforms:
“Sharply reducing centralised targets and bureaucracy….Putting front line staff in charge of their ward or unit budget, and allowing staff to establish employee trusts giving them real involvement and say over how their service is run”
They sought extensive administrative chanegs, including the abolition of PCTs and their replacement by locally elected Health Boards.
They did not recommend the abolition of private involvement or contracting out, but did favour more contracting out to employee buy outs and the third sector. “Giving local health boards the freedom to commission services for local people from a range of different types of provider”.
The so called Lansley reforms are a true amalgamation of two radical manifesto packages promising substantial NHS reform. Both wanted to cut centralised and bureacratic costs, both wanted to strengthen the front line, both wanted more employee mutuals and co-ops to replace directly employed staff and both wanted budget delegation to GPs and hospital ward management.
Have the Lib Dems now changed their minds or have they forgotten their Manifesto and their support for the White Paper and the Bill in the Commons?