Health Bill – limping to the finish line?

Andrew George (MP for the west Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Constituency of St Ives and member of the Health Select Committee) has said that the Health Bill now resembles a Greek tragedy.

As there’s now no chance of a dignified withdrawal, he said, “Ministers are caught in a political virility contest endgame in which the merits or otherwise of the Bill have become immaterial.

“Even if the PM, DPM and Health Secretary privately acknowledged that the Bill would damage the NHS and should be scrapped, they are inescapably trapped in the prism of the Westminster Village; and the “humiliating climb down”/”tough it out” headlines that would accompany any decision.”

He intervened on Mr Lansley during the week when the Health Sec. was pointing out how successful the Govt had been. Mr George asked, “if the NHS is performing so well then why is he pressing on with the Health Bill?” (Hansard 22/2/12 col. 898).

Mr George has also highlighted that the Health Secretary’s ‘talking up’ of the present NHS is well founded; following further research which has shown that the NHS “outperforms other high income countries on many measures despite spending much less than most of them” (Professor David Ingleby et al, in the BMJ 22/2/12).

Mr George added, “Anything my Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Lords can do to make the Bill less bad would of course be very welcome. But I’m still unconvinced that it could be heaved over even the very low “worth doing” hurdle that would justify the Bill’s survival.”

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