SECRETARY of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, delivered his Annual Report to Parliament on the Health Service yesterday, to coincide with the publication of his report on the NHS Constitution and the Draft Mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board.
He announced that the government was ‘standing back’ from the running of the NHS, which was to be the responsibility of the NHS Commissioning Board
He said: ‘Rooted in the values of the Constitution, we will drive further improvement across the NHS through a set of objectives called the Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board.
‘The draft mandate I am also publishing today.
‘The Mandate will redefine the relationship between government and the NHS, with ministers stepping back from day-to-day interference in the service.’
He pledged ‘A new era, where patients are more in control, where clinicians lead services, and where outcomes are among the best in the world.’
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham responded: ‘This secretary of state has inflicted an ideological experiment on the NHS. . . .
‘Two thirds of NHS acute trusts, 65%, are reported to have fallen behind on their efficiency targets, so we see temporary ward and A&E closure, a quarter of walk-in centres closing across England . . .
‘Panic measures to close services sprouting up wherever you look and crude, random rationing across the NHS, with 125 separate treatments, including cataracts, hip replacements and knees being restricted or stopped altogether by one PCT or another.
‘His is an NHS drifting dangerously towards trouble, or in the words of the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, a supertanker heading for an iceberg.’
Burnham continued: ‘This House needs to ask, who is this Mandate being given to?
‘And who are the people on this board? With trademark, catastrophic timing, we learn the Secretary of State has given a leading role in the running of the NHS to the vice-chair of Barclays, no other than Mr Diamond’s right-hand man and someone who has given £106,000 in donations to the Conservative Party.
‘We know the real mandate he has given his new Board. A mandate for privatisation. He promised it wouldn’t happen but it is happening, with community services being outsourced.’