Good news from Lib Dem conference. The Winchester Lib Dem-backed motion on the coalition’s NHS plans was carried overwhelmingly.
Attached is the press release, I’ve just printed/sent out on behalf of the Social Liberal Forum.
Nick Clegg must now deliver the changes in NHS policy that the Lib Dems have demanded – Harris
Responding to the overwhelming vote which called for amendments to be made to the Health Bill going through Parliament to get rid of the marketization and enhance accountability, Dr Evan Harris, who drafted the amendment, said:
“It is now incumbent on Nick and his ministerial team to deliver the major changes to the Government’s Health Policy and the significant amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill that the Liberal Democrats have overwhelming called for.
“Because the health reforms were not in the coalition agreement, today’s vote is the only view expressed by the party on the subject, and sends a very clear message through the minister and our leader to their Conservative Coalition partners that we will not accept market reform of the health service, any fragmentation or destabilisation of NHS services by new private providers or the lack of accountability for the spending of public money envisaged in the model of GP commissioning promoted in the bill.”
The onus is now on the Government to respond fully to the democratically expressed views of the Liberal Democrats.”
Evan Harris, 07867 538896
- Dr Evan Harris is an elected Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrats Federal Policy.
- The Social Liberal Forum – www.socialforum.net – believe that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom – and was set up by party members to help the Liberal Democrats develop – as a priority – a distinctive, radical and progressive set of policies and manifesto for the next election
- Key parts of the amendments passed follow:
Amendments to the Liberal Democrats Health Policy Debate
Conference recognises however that all of the above policies and aspirations can be achieved without adopting the damaging and unjustified market-based approach that is proposed.
Conference regrets that some of the proposed reforms have never been Liberal Democrat policy, did not feature in our manifesto or in the agreed Coalition Programme, which instead called for an end to large-scale top-down reorganisations.
Conference therefore calls on Liberal Democrats in Parliament to amend the Health Bill to provide for:
- More democratically accountable commissioning.
- A much greater degree of co-terminosity between local authorities and commissioning areas.
- No decision about the spending of NHS funds to be made in private and without proper consultation, as can take place by the proposed GP consortia.
- The complete ruling out of any competition based on price to prevent loss-leading corporate providers under-cutting NHS tariffs, and to ensure that healthcare providers ‘compete’ on quality of care.
- New private providers to be allowed only where there is no risk of ‘cherry-picking’ which would destabilise or undermine the existing NHS service relied upon for emergencies and complex cases, and where the needs of equity, research and training are met.
- NHS commissioning being retained as a public function in full compliance with the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information laws, using the skills and experience of existing NHS staff rather than the sub-contracting of commissioning to private companies.
- The continued separation of the commissioning and provision of services to prevent conflicts of interests.
- An NHS, responsive to patients’ needs, based on co-operation rather than competition, and which promotes quality and equity not the market
Conference calls on the government to seize fully the opportunity to reverse the scandalous lack of accountability of publicly-funded local health services which has grown up under decades of Conservative and Labour governments, by:
- ensuring full scrutiny, including the power to require attendance, by elected local authorities of all organisations in the local health economy funded by public money, including Foundation Trusts and any external support for commissioning consortia; ensuring that all such organisations are subject to Freedom of Information requirements.
- ensuring Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) are a strong voice for accountable local people in setting the strategic direction for and co-ordinating provision of health and social care services locally by containing substantial representation from elected local councillors; and by requiring GP Commissioning Boards to construct their Annual Plans in conjunction with the HWBs; to monitor their implementation at meetings with the HWBs not less than once each quarter; and to review the implementation of the Annual Plan with the HWBs at the end of the year prior to the construction of the Annual Plan for the forthcoming year.
- Ensuring commissioning of health services has some degree of accountability by requiring about half of the members of the board of commissioning consortia, alongside GPs, to be local councillors appointed as non-executive directors.
- Offering additional freedoms only to Foundation Trusts that successfully engage substantial proportions of their local populations as active members.