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Lansley vetoes reform risk register publication

  • 10 Comments

The government has vetoed the publication of a risk register on the implementation of its NHS reforms, which it had been ordered to publish by an independent tribunal.

The Department of Health’s decision to use the veto follows its battle to resist publication of the Transition Risk Register, which was requested under the Freedom of Information Act in November 2010 by then shadow health secretary John Healey.

In March an information tribunal rejected the DH’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s ruling that the register should be published.

Instead of appealing again, health secretary Andrew Lansley has taken the rare step of using its power under the act to veto the request.

He has made the decision despite the leaking of a version of the Transition Risk Register later in March.

The ministerial veto has been used on three previous occasions - once when disclosure of Cabinet minutes on Iraq was ordered, and twice in relation to minutes of the Cabinet sub-committee on devolution.

A DH statement today said Mr Lansley had consulted the Cabinet and made the decision because it was an “exceptional case where there is a fundamental disagreement on where the public interest lies”. It said a further appeal tribunal would “focus on points of law arising out of the [previous tribunal] rather than the balance of the public interest”.

The statement reiterated the government’s position. It said: “Ministers and officials should be able to deliberate sensitive policy formulation, in expectation that their views are not published at a time when it would prejudice the development and delivery of policies. If such risk registers were regularly disclosed, it is likely their form and content would change, and they would no longer be the effective internal management tools they are intended to be.”

DH permanent secretary Una O’Brien and former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell both made this argument determinedly at the tribunal hearing on the risk register’s release.

Mr Lansley said in a statement: “This is not a step I have taken lightly. I am a firm believer in greater transparency and this government and this department have done far more than our predecessors in publishing information about the performance and results of our policies.

“But there also needs to be safe space where officials are able to give ministers full and frank advice in developing policies and programmes.”

Alongside the announcement the DH has published a list of the issues which it says were covered by the register, and the “mitigating actions” which have taken place and which will take place in future.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We will need to study the secretary of state’s statement of reasons for imposing the ministerial veto in this case. These must, under the criteria established by the government, be ‘exceptional’. We will present the commissioner’s formal report on the matter to Parliament next week.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Despite overwhelming opposition, the government is undertaking the most radical restructure of the NHS at the same time as the service faces severe financial challenges.

“We believe it is wrong that yet again the government is refusing to publish, in full, the risks associated with these reforms. We are on record as agreeing with the Information Commissioner ruling that there was a strong public interest in the publication of the register and that it should be published as soon as possible.

“The decision is astonishing and means that the public are only being presented with a partial picture of the NHS reforms.”

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • what do you expect from this jumped little moron

    privatisation has started, why would he want a publication that would undermine the tory principles of privatisation of the nhs

    they are all the same and the quicker we give them the boot at the general election the better

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  • tinkerbell

    Scoundrels, liars and deceivers.

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  • "Mr Lansley said in a statement: “This is not a step I have taken lightly. I am a firm believer in greater transparency..."

    there seems little value in stating one's beliefs and then doing the complete opposite!

    “Government of the people by the people, for the people.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    I suppose neither Andrew Lansley or David Cameron, for that matter, are Abraham Lincoln and Britain isn't the USA!

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  • What an absolute shambles but you would only expect this with call me 'Dave' and his side kick less than likeable Lansley. What happened to co pilot Clegg and his transparent government. Its a case of profit before people a typical Tory trait.

    The NHS bill or as most nurses refer to it now as the GP profit making bill Ltd, shambles and of course no conflict of interest eh!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-May-2012 12:53 pm

    "Mr Lansley said in a statement: “This is not a step I have taken lightly. I am a firm believer in greater transparency..."


    What a bullshiter.

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  • “... where there is a fundamental disagreement on where the public interest lies”.
    Yes, wouldn't want the stinking plebs to know anything that we don't make up for them first.

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  • tinkerbell



    Yesterday, the government set out its new plans for the year ahead in the Queen’s Speech. [1] It’s just what we feared: they want new powers to invade our privacy. They plan to collect and keep information on all of us about who we call, text and email, and which websites we visit. And they won’t need a warrant or reason. [2]

    There’s still time to stop them. If enough of us work together, we can get these plans scrapped. We can build a huge movement to stand up for our freedom and our right to privacy as law-abiding British citizens.

    Last year, hundreds of thousands of people worked together until we stopped the government’s plan to sell off England’s woodlands. [3] We can do it again - but we need big numbers. Can you forward this email to people you know and ask them to sign the petition?
    https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/stop-the-snooping-plan

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  • We have to make sure this lot of two-faced, deceitful no-gooders do not get into parliament again for a very long time.
    This was bound to happen to our NHS if Tory rule got in again. It was on the cards.
    I'm so disappointed with the Lib Dems. They have now burned their bridges and have lost the little chance they had to build their public credibility.
    Open & transparent?! As much as a jar of mud. This whole scenario stinks - hope this one gets to Question Time!!

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  • Anonymous | 10-May-2012 11:13 pm

    the last government was no better and in fact started the ball rolling so where do we go from here?

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  • tinkerbell

    Our service manager 'mentioned' today that they have been discussing reducing our wages by 3%. Said we need to save £30,000 pounds, told him to get a purple loan and gave him a slap.

    So now he has 'mentioned' it, (leaked it) we can all discuss it no doubt until we have all got used to the possibility and then they will implement it and we will all just accept it I guess.

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