THE House of Commons Health Committee on October 18th discussed who was to fill the post of being chair of the NHS Commissioning Board that will handle tens of billions of NHS cash, using it to purchase private care. It delivered its verdict on the Coalition Government’s appointment of Professor Michael Grant for the job.
The Committee backed up the coalition’s choice after a 3-3 split on an amendment to reject, on the basis of nine principal objections. The matter was decided by the chairman’s casting vote.
The objections in fact were a summary of the reasons why the coalition opted for Grant in the first place.
These were: ‘1. Professor Grant demonstrated a lack of experience of NHS structures and processes;
2. Professor Grant did not demonstrate to the Committee a robust understanding of the issues affecting the NHS;
3. Professor Grant acknowledged to the Committee that the Department of Health assisted in the preparation of answers to the written questions posed by the Committee;
4. Professor Grant did not demonstrate to the Committee a clear understanding of how the NHS Commissioning Board would intervene in the case of commissioner failure;
5. Professor Grant was not robust in terms of the advocacy role of the Chair of the NHS Commissioning Board;
6. Professor Grant was unclear about the means by which the NHS Commissioning Board would seek service reconfiguration locally;
7. Professor Grant demonstrated an assumption that his appointment was already confirmed;
8. Professor Grant made a reference to the Health and Social Care Bill he is required to implement as being unintelligible;
9. Professor Grant did not persuade the Committee that he would provide an effective
counterbalance to the executive members of the NHS Commissioning Board.’
In a few words, Grant knew very little about the NHS, full stop. In fact, his job is to demolish it.
The chairman was Stephen Dorrell, the Conservative MP. Dorrell is a very well-known Thatcherite and supporter of privatisation. He was health secretary in 1995, during the BSE-‘mad cow’ catastrophe, and in 1996, when the BSE crisis was finally acknowledged by the Major government, apologised for stating earlier that there was ‘no conceivable risk from eating British beef’.
He said at the time: ‘The question about conceivable risk was that it was my phrase. I have responsibility for that and I regret having made that statement.’
Having presided over one health catastrophe, he is now assisting putting into place another, the ‘final solution’ to the NHS problem for the ruling class – privatisation. He is also pushing to take over Lansley’s job of Health Secretary, spearheading NHS privatisation. His casting vote was therefore no great surprise.
The Government says of the Commissioning Board: ‘To support GP consortia in their commissioning decisions we will create a statutory NHS Commissioning Board. This will be a lean and expert organisation, free from day-to-day political interference, with a commissioning model that draws from best international practice.’
As well: ‘Ministers will remain accountable to parliament and the public for all aspects of the NHS, but will be at arm’s length from detailed operational decision-making’, while the National Commissioning Board disposes of up to £80bn of NHS cash.
Grant is ideal and trained for the job on hand. He was appointed a British Business Ambassador by the Prime Minister in 2008 and from 2006-2009 he was chair of the Russell Group of universities which called for the cap on tuition fees to be lifted and fees trebled.
He is now to go from privatising higher education to privatising the NHS. Only a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government and socialism can save the NHS!