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Sunday, August 16, 2009

More health service problems for Cameron

And whilst we are on the Tories, today's Observer has cast further doubt on the ability of David Cameron to distance himself from Daniel Hannan and his anti-NHS rhetoric.

They say that several key Tory shadow cabinet members put their names to a manifesto criticising the NHS and calling for it in effect to be dismantled:

The Observer can reveal that leading Tory MPs – who include Cameron's close ally Michael Gove – are listed alongside controversial MEP Daniel Hannan as co-authors of a book, Direct Democracy, which says the NHS "fails to meet public expectations" and is "no longer relevant in the 21st century".

Others listed as co-authors in the book, published shortly after the 2005 general election, include shadow cabinet members Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt and frontbencher Robert Goodwill. Clark and Hunt were unavailable for comment last night.

Gove is also one of a group of more than 20 Tory MPs and MEPs who are cited as supporters of Hannan's views in another book, The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain, published in December last year, in which Hannan and Tory MP Douglas Carswell describe the NHS as "the national sickness service".

Both books call for the NHS to be replaced by a new system of health provision in which people would pay money into personal health accounts, which they could then use to shop around for care from public and private providers. Those who could not afford to save enough would be funded by the state.

Some Tories have argued that this policy is not seeking to dismantle the NHS but rather to widen choice and enable those who can afford it to buy a better service. However, the reality is that what they are arguing for is a two-tier health service in which the poor get second rate treatment, whilst the introduction of a market economy within the NHS will lead to it being broken up, with state-provided care being unable to compete with higher quality and better funded private provision.

There really does need to be some clarity now as to what exactly is Conservative Health policy and whether, once they are in government, free-marketeers like Hannan will be permitted free range in delivering these sorts of reforms.
There really does need to be some clarity now as to what exactly is Conservative Health policy

Indeed. It seems like only yesterday that key Tory speakers were proposing a switch to a French-style health system. Now Cameron seems to be defending the NHS as is. Is the Health Service safe in their hands?
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