This week the controversial new section 75 NHS regulations come back before Parliament. They’re the ones which most people think will open up the NHS fully to competitive tendering, another very large nail in the coffin of the NHS as we know it.
The regulations have been opposed on all sides – by the BMA, the Lords’ Committee, and this week by a group of influential charities, including Marie Curie Cancer Care, Sue Ryder and Help the Hospices. The charities have said that the new rules will mean that competitive tendering becomes ‘mandatory in all but the most exceptional circumstances’. The BMA has called for their withdrawal.
But the LibDems have decided to vote in favour. To their credit, they voted with Labour on calls for revision of the original regulations. They’ll now vote for them, even though almost everyone accepts that the revisions are at best cosmetic, and that in practice the new regulations will be a minefield, opening up legal challenges to Clinical Commissioning Groups by private health firms – wasting yet more precious health service funding.
And why have the LibDems decided to vote this way? Because Tory peer Lord Howe has assured them that critics’ fears are unfounded.
Which leaves a simple question – who would you trust – Marie Curie Cancer Care, Sue Ryder, Help the Hospices -or a Tory Peer?
The LibDems have given their answer.
[first published on Adel and Wharfedale Labour website.]