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Jonathan Isaby: "This is a particular tribute to Mr Lansley himself, who has been diligently working on the health portfolio since 2004 and David Cameron has publicly promised him the job of Health Secretary if he becomes Prime Minister after the next election. As such, this should also serve as a lesson that if you have hard-working round pegs in round holes when it comes to shadow cabinet portfolios, then it is worth them remaining in place rather than being shuffled every twelve months."

What rubbish!

This is what happens when you promise the health professionals what they want. Protection of their incomes and no organisational change.

Lansley has been captured by the health bureaucracy.

I haven't seen very much evidence of firm policies for health and the GP, (as in General Public, as opposed to the health professionals), seem to be completely in the dark.

As an unselected wannabe candidate I do a lot of door knocking and do get asked, "What would you do about the NHS?" on quite a regular basis. Frankly, I don't know the answer to that because there have been no policy briefings issued on this at all. (And I have checked the closed website used by candidates - there is just one policy briefing there, on health visitors - and one template letter on the GP contract, the rest are all press releases).

I am still telling people we will put the cash in at the GP level, rather than at PCT/Hospital level, but I don't know if that is our policy or not.

I have little confidence in Lansley. He seems to have been captured by the machine. Whilst I fully recognise that the NHS is the state religeon and to suggest anything other than the status quo, plus more money, is heresy punishable by slow, lingering death, but we really do need a better story for the public - it's their votes we need, not those of a few GPs.

Alan S is spot on. This isn't a cause for back-patting, it's simply the result of Andrew Lansley spending every waking minute stroking the health establishment - at the expense of policies that would be popular with patients, who, er, outnumber GPs by some distance. I think the average voter would be hard-pressed to name a single policy that the Tories would implement that they think would improve the NHS, and that's Lansley's fault.

Well that's a releif, a whole additional 25% of GP's will vote for us! That should guarantee Cameron gets elected!
What a load of drivel.

I have little confidence in Lansley. He seems to have been captured by the machine.

I too have been very disappointed at Andrew Lansley's lack of visibility and would have agreed with this quote - but after reading the above, I wonder....
GPs are some of the most trusted people in our society - even after their pay hike. If they say that Conservatives have the best policies for the NHS the public are likely to believe them. Getting the health professionals on-side is a major step in getting the public on-side.
But it would still be nice to hear a bit more about the policies...

In the 2005 General Election we in Hammersmith & Fulham noticed that doctors and other health professionals were coming back to the Conservatives. This was partly due to local issues - at the time there was a closure threat hanging over Charing Cross Hospital - nevertheless, Greg Hands did benefit from the "medical vote".

Sorry for that lapse into labourspeak - it's like one of those ghastly tunes that get's into your head and you find yourself humming by mistake.
When I said health professionals, I meant doctors and nurses.

I well remember going the rounds with our MP in 1992 and letting him know that the doctors of whom there were 3 in our family, plus 4 nurses, were quite definitely very anti the Tories at that time. The MP was staggered, actually asked me to repeat that because he could not believe it. But it was true.

Question - is Lansley in thrall to the GP Union, the BMA?

He certainly spouts out all their mantras faithfully e.g:

1) "too many targets" (i.e. we're not used to being told what to do);

2) "polyclinics are bad" (i.e. less jobs for the boys)

3) "junior doctors shouldn't have to wait to be given jobs" (i.e. the medical profession should remain very well paid but not be too competency driven).

No wonder he's the GPs' favourite.

But does it bode well for good Government?

Producer interests do have to be taken on from time to time.

Ron, I am afraid I simply do not buy your argument.

1) "Too many targets". Are you suggesting that it is better for civil servants in London to decide priorities than doctors on the ground? You complain that doctors are "not used to being told what to do", but is it really sensible spend many millions of pounds training up some of our brightest students to be doctors and to be able to think for themselves, and then have some policy committee decide how they should treat patients. It is bonkers.

2) "polyclinics are bad". This is not quite the message as I understand. It would be better expressed as "polyclinics are not a good one-size-fits-all solution". There are areas (particularly urban areas) when polyclinics seems extremely sensible. There are other areas (most rural settings) where they do not. Essentially, the ideal of developing the GP-patient relationship is an extremely strong one. Modern lifestyles do not always make this easy to organise but there are many parts of the country where this system does work extremely well. Labour has a well-known urban bias. Lets not impose urban paradigms on rural communities.

3) "junior doctors shouldn't have to wait to be given jobs". Taxpayers invest huge amounts of money training doctors. What is the point in spending this money if they can't go on to do what they have been trained to do? There are education issues concerning admission to medical school (which is effectively the gateway check) but these should be solved by improving the state education system so that people from a broader range of backgrounds can succeed in medicine, not by spending money on training medical students and then leaving them in limbo.

It seems that Lansley just has a better idea of what is actually entailed in delivering a strong health system than you do, Ron.

All too often "Targets" are more concerned with quantity, rather than quality and ticking boxes, rather than treating the individual. There is also something very wrong with a health service which spends a fortune in training young doctors, only for them to have to look for a job in another country, whilst the NHS is recruiting doctors from overseas, often to the detriment of their own home countries.

Lansley has been a disaster.

As for this being a good survey for the Conservatives? Lansley has promised to end evening and weekend opening and give the GPs back the money the government is paying for these additional sessions in return for absolutely nothing.

And yet he still has only 50% of GPs saying they would vote for him?


Of course the professionals like the idea of scrapping targets. Why should they have to see a cancer patient within 2 weeks or an A&E patient in 4 hours when they could be taking it easy?

Im amazed more isnt made of the longer waiting times many will suffer under Andrew Lansley's NHS.

The man lacks any sort of spine for a fight.

By the way, does anyone else think "C-LIST and proud" mightbe about to get an official warning?

Yuo cant run the NHS by pandering to the staff. Just look at how the BMA's resistance has crumbled on the issue of evening and weekend opening. We hear today that the leader of the BMA himself is going to run one of the new polyclinics.

Sometimes you have to decide what the right answer is and then take people on.

Lansley is a joke to these people

"health professionals"!

You're quite right, Deborah and I do apologise that I found myself using that appalling jargon as well. It comes from living our lives under NuLab; we find ourselves unconsciously TALKING like the so-and-so's!!

Andrew Lansley as been useless as the party`s health spokesman. He as not come up with any original policies and what he as come up with like abolishing longer opening hours is actually nonsense as they are popular with patients.
Polyclinics are not the way forward. They will weaken local hospitals by taking services away from them and I think are being used as a back door way of privatising the service as most if not all of these clinics are going to be run by private company`s who have contributed a lot to the NHS problems.
Deficits have been caused by the PFI schemes and the reason our hospitals have problems with infections is because of privatising cleaning contracts.
Get rid of the private sector from the NHS and you will not just cut costs that are going out of the service in profits for private companies you will improve the service as well as it will once again have control over all those working in the service.

I don't know Mr Lansley, but in not bringing forward policies he is not alone. I do worry that people are shouting against Labour delivery rather than for Tory vision. But the article is interesting and does highlight Labour ineptitude. The lies that Labour got away with about Tory Health Policies in the 1990s still gall.
But would the Tories do a much better job now? Very difficult to say because the NHS needs some serious re-alignment but at the same time needs to settle down after all the upheavals, an extremely difficult balancing act for anybody.

Just 15 per cent of GPs say that they would now vote Labour, compared with 44 per cent in 1997.

Translation: "We have been found out"

Investment in the NHS rose from £39 billion in 1995 to £89.7 billion in 2006.

Translation: " We have increased spending by implementing a circular series of reorgs which leave us near where we started, after much upheaval (for reorg and upheaval and non-delivery see also Education)"

"Ben Bradshaw, the health minister, said: "It would seem that half the GPs who responded to this survey have short memories."

Translation: "Our bribes to strip professionals of their professional discretion and integrity haven't worked"

John Ionides at 11:49 You still don't address the issue that Lansley's announcements are usually producer-focused BMA soundbites (whatever their indivdual rights and wrongs).

The Conservative Party's focus should instead be on what the taxpayer receiving the health service wants, not what the salaried deliverers (and active lobbyists) of the service want.

By the way, does anyone else think "C-LIST and proud" mightbe about to get an official warning?

Posted by: luke | January 08, 2009 at 12:51

They'll have to catch me first!

Alan S said: "What rubbish!

This is what happens when you promise the health professionals what they want. Protection of their incomes and no organisational change."

What rubbish - if they want income protection then they should keep voting Labour. Doctors' incomes have risen massively under Labour - a 63% rise in three years from 2003 - 2005.

If Lansley has the doctors on side then good for him. What many posters around here forget is that to win elections you need people on your side - so what if you don't like Lansley? I don't like Cameron or Osbourne much but I will still be voting for them.

Obviously Labour trolls will be squealing like stuck pigs as they see another support of the socialist utopia project falling away, but I expect that from them. Those who "talk the tory talk" need to remember that the goal is to WIN.

Luke said: "Of course the professionals like the idea of scrapping targets."

If you want to see targets in action, look at things like the Ealing Ghost Bus - there for the targets, not for the passengers.

Doctors can already dodge targets - there have been cases in A&E of Doctors telling patients where to sit in the waiting room so that a box can be ticked saying "Doctor saw patient within four hours". Other examples from The Times and The Grauniad

Targets are a waste of time and effort. Sack doctors and nurses who fail to give adequate treatment in a timely fashion and service will improve. If you are unsackable then targets are just something else to dodge - you'll still get paid.

I see Lansley is the speaker at the next Polieia meeting.

Andrew Lansley to Set Out Conservative Plans for Healthcare
Politeia’s Winter Address
Monday 9th February 6.30 pm – 7.30 pm

Might answer a few doubters.

"This is a real vote of confidence in the Conservative party’s policies for the NHS, from the people who have the greatest day to day responsibility for caring for patients."

then he puts his foot in it and says GP's.

Nurses spend more face to face time with NHS patients delivering care than GP's do.

Doctors reject New Labour.
No, bad, 'cos Lansley's useless.
Who says so?
ConHome regulars and Labour trolls.
Oh them. Well Lansley can't be all bad.
Anyway, who gave the docs a massive pay rise, a rise they didn't ask for?
No. New Labour. And they still don't get the doctor's vote.
Rejoice, you miserable so and sos.

Let's take this step by step.

1. "Doctors disillusioned by Labour - much more inclined to vote Conservative now." Not surprising when individuals who have put themselves out to obtain professional qualifications and acquire skill and expertise focused upon improving the quality of patients' lives suddenly discover that they are to be treated as box tickers and bureaucrat appeasers. Don't blame the GPs for achieving high earnings via compliance - blame the creators of the system that led to this.

2. Andrew Lansley's reaction: hard to find a single word to refute there, although it would have been more reassuring to see e.g. a promise that NHSIT (so tempting to transpose a couple of letters) will be scrapped with immediate effect. The utter futility of wasting thousands of GP hours in transcribing patient file notes into data that few others would trust at first hand simply beggars belief.

3. The closing tribute: debatable if it was ever to lead to complacency on the part of the reassured individual, but nothing to detract from the overall message here.

I speak as the husband of a sole practitioner GP whose previous faith in and respect for the NHS has been all but shattered as a result of the burdens that Labour have imposed on GP practices over the last 11 years, all in the name of being seen to be doing something, however futile and soul destroying it may be.

Wonders will never cease, for once I agree with Jack Stone, at least over PFIs !
PFIs were, of course, a cunning way of keeping expenditure upon new hospitals off the bottom line (therefore not part of Britain,s debt!)
Whilst there are some examples of very successful PFIs, there are probably more bad ones, lack of direct control over cleaning staff ,catering, porters, car parking etc. being only some of the problems. However, the major drawback with the PFI system lies mainly in the inability of both and junior senior public sector employees to negotiate successfully with their opposite numbers in the private sector. This is partially due to commercial inexperience, not only are they using other people's money, but their own jobs are never on the line when they significantly fail to obtain value for money in negotiations, but also to the fact that, even in the non commercial operational sector, commercial considerations (such as staffing ones) often conflict with clinical requirements.

I am still waiting for a positive statement of the Tory policy in respect of PFIs.

David Parker:
You could be waiting some time. Even though a Tory initiative, it seems to have lost its way.

"A recent investigation by Professor Jean Shaoul of Manchester Business School into the profitability of PFI deals based on accounts filed at Companies House revealed that the rate of return for the companies on twelve large PFI Hospitals was 58%"

What was it supposed to be?

David Parker said: "I am still waiting for a positive statement of the Tory policy in respect of PFIs."

What really can they say other than "We're stuck with the ones we will inherit, but no more will be granted under the current rules".

It's like the schools stuff. Instead of engaging an architect to work with schools and come up with (say) 10 basic designs which all schools could use, Labour has made each school redesign require a full tendering and design process thus incurring huge overhead costs. Each school has to choose from at least 3 submissions.....

PFIs for schools could resume at a fraction of the current costs. Maybe the same could be done for hospitals?

Only in the Conservative Party is it possible to find people who think winning new support reflects badly on the person most intimately involved in winning that support.


Yes I know. But then half the posters here are probably Labour troublemakers so it isn't quite as bad as it seems at first :-)

Ron, point taken about the management-speak, but other posters are correct, I think, in identifying that there are different ways to instigate change. Bringing the "community leaders" (in this case, the doctors and the BMA) on board and negotiating change tends to be far preferable to taking on all comers (although sometime this is necessary). Given that it looks as though there are going to be a real firefight over education I, for one, would be more than happy to see Health handled in a gentler manner.

It is certainly a problem that Labour has, from the taxpayer perspective, negotiated appallingly badly on GP and consultant contracts. But then being cr*p at government is their MO. Just trying to reverse simplistically the rot of the last ten years is would, I think, just create yet more problems. Rather it will take years of hard work, and the fact that Lansley has brought the community back on-side is an extremely promising first step.

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