Government rides roughshod! – Cameron excludes health professionals

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‘DON’T you dare lie to me!’ angry pensioner June Hautot shouted at Health Secretary Lansley as she confronted him at the entrance to Downing Street on his way into Cameron’s Health and Social Care Bill ‘war summit’ yesterday.

Lansley had denied to her that the Health and Social Care Bill was about privatisation of the NHS. Refusing to stand aside, she said: ‘I’m not getting out of the way, I’m not letting you go, I’ve had enough of you!’

The government said the meeting was only for those ‘constructively engaged in implementing the modernisation’.

Excluded were the British Medical Association, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the College of Occupational Therapists, the Royal College of Midwives, the Faculty of Public Health, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Unison and Unite.

Commenting on the exclusion of the health workers’ organisations, Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the RCM, said: ‘If it is Mr Cameron’s aim to alienate great swathes of the people who deliver NHS front-line services, then actions and behaviour such as this, will I think, have the desired effect.’

Peter Carter, from the RCN, said: ‘We really don’t think it’s a sensible way forward to think that you can have a meeting, which has been called an emergency summit to take things forward, without involving many of the key organisations that are intrinsic to making sure the NHS is successful.’

Dr Clare Gerada, director of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Many of us, many Royal Colleges, have agonised over what to do and we ask now for the complete withdrawal of the bill. We haven’t done that easily.’

At the gates of Downing Street BMA member Dr Louise Irving said: ‘It won’t be the same NHS after this bill gets passed.

‘It’s going to privatise large sections of healthcare provision. But more than that, it’s going to really damage the service that patients get. We as health professionals are very, very worried about this.’

She added: ‘This bill is intending to open up the whole of the NHS to private companies to bid to run services and what we’re worried about is that that will break up the NHS.

‘It will break up the ability of the NHS to coordinate and to cooperate and to plan services for patients across the country.’

Tory Health Minister Simon Burns made clear that the meeting was in essence a war summit, saying: ‘Today’s meeting is about meeting those who have a constructive attitude towards the implementation of modernisation.’

Unite published a poll yesterday which shows that six times as many people trust health professionals than Cameron and Lansley over the Health Bill, and 68 per cent want the government to publish the ‘risk register’ on the anticipated consequences of the ‘reforms’.

The poll comes ahead of tomorrow’s opposition debate in the House of Commons over the government’s refusal to release the NHS risk register and next week the government is going to the High Court to stop the report from being published.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘David Cameron is haemorrhaging trust over the Health Bill with public disquiet growing each day the government fights to keep the risk register secret. People have a right to know what damage these so-called reforms will do to their NHS.’