Tory leader’s vision of NHS future

Tory leader David Cameron came to Hinchingbrooke Hospital on Thursday. This was the reaction he found from staff at a hospital under siege. Report by IAN MacKELLAR. Pictures: HUNTS POST THE National Health Service should be separated from politics, says

Tory leader David Cameron came to Hinchingbrooke Hospital on Thursday. This was the reaction he found from staff at a hospital under siege. Report by IAN MacKELLAR. Pictures: HUNTS POST

THE National Health Service should be separated from politics, says Tory leader, David Cameron.

It should be removed from central Government control in the same way that the Bank of England was set afloat shortly after Labour took office in 1997.

The interest rate decision has been spectacularly successful.


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What Gordon Brown did, as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, was to relinquish control of interest rates and take them out of the realm of party politics. Cynics say that all he did was to remove the Government from blame for rising interest rates. That is unfair - and not just because interest rates have generally fallen, rather than risen. It has actually been part of a successful economic policy (ironically, building on Sir John Major's previous success that lost him the 1997 General Election) that has seen the longest period of economic stability in post-war British history. And that is even without belonging to the super-stabilising Euro Zone.

David Cameron's idea is to do something similar with the NHS. It seems to run something along these lines: the Government centrally sets the overall budget and then it is up to GPs (largely) to decide how the money is spent on patients.

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It misses out a huge layer of intermediate bureaucracy that determines which GPs get how much money to spend on their patients, but it would be wrong to condemn a potentially good idea just because the detail has not yet been worked through.

Removing the NHS from the political football field and from constant reorganisation must be a benefit, just as transferring interest rate decisions to the Monetary Policy Committee has proved. Government has retained responsibility for over-arching policy, but not for detail. That seems a pretty good division of labour for the NHS too.

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