I’ve just caught up with this excellent editorial from the Observer on the government’s NHS gamble:
David Cameron learned in opposition that voters are not easily persuaded to trust the Conservative party with the NHS. So he came into government with two pledges aimed at allaying suspicion: spending on healthcare would be protected and there would be no scary meddling with the service. He is in danger of failing on both counts.
The interesting part is the personal nature of the editorial concerning Andrew Lansley:
[T]he personal ambitions of the health secretary are also key. Mr Lansley is a senior figure in the party and was once Mr Cameron’s boss at Tory HQ. He held his current portfolio for six years in opposition, time to develop a grand project that would be his political legacy. Noting that cabinet colleagues are implementing ambitious plans for education, welfare and justice, Mr Lansley is determined to do the same at the Department of Health. But his vision evolved under different economic circumstances, when no one envisaged the austerity now being inflicted on public services. The NHS, more than any institution, needs cautious navigation through the new fiscal landscape. Mr Lansley’s refusal to moderate his plans accordingly suggests stubbornness and pride are trumping political judgment.
Back in July we noted that Lansley had the “winning combination” of
arrogance, ignorance and power.
Of course, we were being flippant. What we joked was Lansley’s winning combination has turned out to be Lansley’s losing gamble.
It’s just a shame that the NHS and its patients will pay for his bet.