There is a popular misconception going around that suggests that Andrew Lansley is slightly loopy, a rogue Tory who succeeded in surprising the coalition by announcing a series of measures to reorganise the NHS, much to the chagrin of his Leader David Cameron, and their Liberal Democrat ‘partners’.
The theory is based around Cameron’s pre-election promise to support the NHS and his public pledge of ‘no top-down re-organisation’. The myth of Lansley the rogue minister is propagated by those like Roy Lilley, whose amusing portrayal of Lansley as La-La has done much to undermine Lansley’s image as a serious politician and rebrand him as some blithering nit-wit with no real idea of the chaos and destruction he is creating.
Well, it is a very wrong perception. In opposition Lansley was the only Shadow Minister given a promise by Cameron he would keep his portfolio after the General Election. Cameron and Lansley know exactly what they are doing, and they know that there is more than one way of skinning a cat! People who think the fight is about ‘saving the NHS’ are right, but they are looking down the wrong end of the telescope.
Labour (and those isolated hopeless Lib Dems) keep concentrating on the issue of the privatisation of health service providers, but Lansley knows that is a no-no for the electorate. Stick up a Virgin Hospital sign outside your local general hospital… and you would just have to stand back and wait for the screams of public outrage.
Scrap Primary Care Trusts and replace them with Clinical Commissioning Groups… and virtually no-one even knows what you are talking about. Tell them that you are ‘giving power to the doctors’ to decide, instead of unaccountable bureaucrats… and you’re home and dry.
Lansley portrays the Clinical Commissioning Groups as groupings of GPs sitting around the table and setting local commissioning strategies and negotiating local contracts. In practice, the duties will be tendered and farmed out to private sector organisations by the GPs because they have neither the time, nor the inclination to do the job themselves.
Privatise commissioning, and the privatisation of the provider services under spurious competition rules will follow as sure as night follows day.
Andrew Lansley has been hand in glove with private sector health organisations for years. He is no mug. He knows what he is doing and unless Labour get their act together and explain what he is doing, he will deliver Cameron’s privatisation of the NHS by stealth!