As the Telegraph correctly predicted, yesterday the Health Secretary admitted at the dispatch box that his personal crusade to change the Health Service was having the brakes applied by the Prime Minister. While most questioners on the government benches did their valiant best to support Mr Lansley, the most interesting intervention came from Stephen Dorrell, tory Chairman of the all-party Health Select Committee with counter proposals reported here.
The Government came badly unstuck when a BMA survey showed that doctors are "uncertain whether the benefits of the government's plans to reform the NHS in England outweigh the risks". When Liberal Democrats rebelled big changes were indicated. Others have now taken-up the fight including the campaigning group 38 Degrees encouraged by their success in the forestry sell-off campaign.
Why Mr Lansley thinks that GPs are best placed to spend £80 billion of tax payers money because 'they know their patients' is a mystery after many have spent years getting as remote from patients as possible with nurse-led clinics and 'out-of-hours' care handed to God knows who. As for patient choice, if Mr Lansley wants to base the case for change on his personal experience, his is unlikely to be mirrored by others. How many patients have sufficient independent advice to be able to make a judgement and if they do, would they want to upset their GP by claiming to know better? Personal experience suggests not.
There are problems in the NHS but there is no mandate from the electorate for the major changes being proposed. For most people the NHS, despite its failings, is amongst the best of what is left of Great Britain. If not signalled in party manifestos major changes should be made only with all party agreement not driven through as part of a personal crusade.