The promise in the 2010 coalition agreement to “stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care.” and the various promises beforehand were cynical lies. This is clear for two reasons. The first is that the changes were introduced within weeks of the agreement being announced and the second that the author of the changes, Andrew Lansley had been working on many of these ideas for several years before the election as shadow Health Minister, a role he held since 2004. He made this clear in an interview in the Independent in December 2011 when he suggested that he had been misunderstood. “We made clear what we were going to do before the election”
Yet according to the New Statesman “Perhaps most infamously, the Conservatives repeatedly promised before the general election that there would be no more “top-down reorganisations” of the NHS (Andrew Lansley, Conservative Party press release, 11 July 2007). In a speech at the Royal College of Pathologists on 2 November 2009, Cameron said: “With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS.” In his 2006 Conservative conference speech, he said: “So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it. No more pointless reorganisations.””
To do one thing and promise another is bound to lead to a loss of confidence and increase of sceptism. Qualities that Politicians can ill afford to give away in the context of our demoralised democracy. However one suspects that if the change concerned is successful and if the electors are pleased with the changes, that by the time of the next election they will have forgiven the Politicians for their deceit. However if things get worse as a result then there is nowhere for the Politicians to hide, unless they can paint the alternative to look worse than they do. And this is at the heart of the real malaise in our Political discourse for next years General Election. Andrew Lansley and now Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron can continue to tell lies and deceive voters, as long as by the time of the next election, they are better at blackening the name of Labour, than Ed Miliband is at blackening their name.
Any prospect of the NHS being a success by next May was disclosed in a taped speech by one of the Conservative Junior Health Ministers, Jane Ellison at a meeting of the Conservative Reform Group. The recording and transcript was published in Sundays Observer. Ms Ellison is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Health. “I don’t know how much any of you realise that with the Lansley act we pretty much gave away control of the NHS, which means that the thing that most people talk about in terms of health [the NHS] … we have some important strategic mechanisms but we don’t really have day-to-day control. “From a political point of view, it is a bit like being on a high wire without a net at times, it can be quite exciting.” Exciting or not, this loss of control is in complete contradiction with what most people want and indeed what successive Conservative Prime Ministers have claimed, that the NHS is safe in their hands. It appears that the NHS is no longer in the hands of any Government.