Saying “we need to take a break” usually signals the end in a relationship. But the health secretary’s admission that there are some “genuine concerns” surrounding the health bill that need time to be listened to is far from indicating that the government is drawing the curtains on this “rocky patch” of reforms.
Andrew Lansley didn’t actually say: “It’s not you, it’s me,” but if he had done, it may have allayed a few more fears. Instead, his words were met with concern from health professionals that the government’s only change in policy would be to listen to views and then ignore them, rather than act on them.
However, the language that Mr Lansley, chair of the health select committee Stephen Dorrell and the media are using around the health bill seemed to change last Monday. All we’ve heard about for months is “GP commissioning” and “GP consortia” but on 4 April, Mr Lansley referred to “doctors and nurses” three times in his speech to the House, and Mr Dorrell also chose to fuse the words “doctors and nurses” in later media interviews.
This is what we’ve been calling for in our A Seat on the Board campaign. If you haven’t signed up, make your views count at www.thepetitionsitecom/1/seatontheboard
It’s great to see Julie Moore is representing nurses on the government’s listening and advisory panel and it will be fantastic if Mr Lansley does show up to the RCN Congress this week (the will he, won’t he was still ongoing as we went to press).
But before you put up the bunting, let’s take “a natural pause” to consider how and if the health reforms will change.
National commissioning consortia are likely to largely comprise GPs but could now include a nurse, a hospital doctor and a public health expert. Is this a token change to make the reforms appear multidisciplinary? Or does it signal a change of heart and a desire to engage all disciplines to save the NHS, protect patients and defend the jobs of talented NHS professionals?
We’ll be right back to find out. After this “natural” break.