February 10, 2012 by sharonbrennan
We live in a democracy and the way this Bill has been handled is thoroughly undemocratic.
The Government is sitting on a risk register of its NHS reforms and refuses to publish it until after the Lords have debated the bill. The Government has logged an appeal against a decision by the Information Commissioner that this document must be in the public domain. The lengthy appeal process means the information will only be released after the Bill becomes law. How can anyone debate the merits of a huge change in the NHS without all the information to hand? Unsurprisingly there is an early day motion signed by 75 MPs and counting demanding that this information be released. According to a Labour Party member, the risk analysis warns that the reformed NHS will become unaffordable due to a huge ‘surge’ in costs. No wonder Lansley is adament no one should read it.
Just as concerning, the reforms are already being enacted across the country before the Bill has even passed. I’ve posted on this before, but in short the Bill looks to give GP commissioning powers and open up the NHS to’any willing provider’ (although this has recently been amended to ‘any qualified provider’). Health Secretary Lansley believes that 97% of the country is now already covered by GP commissioning and current Primary Care Trusts are tendering out health contracts to ‘alternative providers’ (i.e. private companies). This has all happened while the Bill was officially ‘paused’ by David Cameron. It is unacceptable that any elected Government enacts controversial reforms without the approval of an elected parliament. There is also the glaring fact that these reforms do not have an electoral mandate as they did not figure in either Liberal Democrats or Tory party election manifestos.
The Coalition is twisting the processes of democracy to suit its own ends – I would hate the Health Bill to set a dangerous precedent.