Roger Fox is Chairman of Tewkesbury Conservative Association.
The Government felt the need to “pause” its Health and Social Care Bill to listen to those who are protesting that the Bill will undermine the NHS to the extent of irrevocable change to its traditional role.
We have since had the Royal College of Nurses conference and a great deal of agitation from some of their delegates. It is worthwhile reminding ourselves what is going on here. Besides its traditional role as a professional organisation, the RCN also undertakes a trade union role. Some of its members took part in industrial action during the “winter of discontent” in early 1979. As a trade union, the RCN finds itself competing with UNISON for members. To attract new members both unions “up the ante” when campaigning for pay rises and campaigning on other issues especially when there is a Conservative Government. It would have been a brave delegate to speak in favour of Government policy last week!
My basic point is that the Conservative Party in the country has failed to support the reforms more vigorously. As has been said elsewhere, it is not Andrew Lansley’s fault that the “pause” has become necessary. The policy was thought through very carefully well before the General Election, it is coherent, continued previous policies such as the purchaser/provider split from the John Major Government and Choose and Book, which enables NHS patients to choose private hospitals, from the Labour years.