The Thick of It

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Monday, February 20, 2012

NHS reform re-toxifies the Tory brand

I can't understand why the Tories are so hell-bent on reforming the NHS. This unpopular change is dragging their brand through the mud when the party has traditionally struggled to get people to believe they will not destroy the NHS. Why do it when you don't have to? Just leave it alone. At least wait for people to trust you first before meddling.

David Cameron and Andrew Lansley are hell-bent on NHS reform precisely because it is such a political body. The NHS symbolises the Labour Party and therefore the Tories have always been suspicious of it. I can understand but not excuse that. What many Tories are now refusing to forgive is Cameron's picking of an unnecessary and un-winnable fight when the  economic climate makes governing hard enough.

Cameron is trying to plough the changes through whatever the opposition in the hope that people will have forgotten about it by 2015 at the next general election. I doubt voters will forget.

Cameron and  Lansley contradict themselves when they claim the reason for the NSH changes, like GP fundholding in the early 1990s, is to take power away from bureaucrats and give it to highly trusted doctors. That might be fine. Except that falls down when the Tories ignore these trusted experts, doctors and nurses, to ignore their advice about the bill.

If we trust doctors, as Cameron says we do. Trust their judgement and drop the bill or watch the Tory brand disappear again.

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