Research by YouGov commissioned by Unite and released today has shown the damage that David Cameron and Andrew Lansley have done to their reputation over the NHS reforms. The British people love the NHS, patient satisfaction is at an all time high and it is becoming very clear that the government threatens this beloved institution at its peril.
Prior to the election David Cameron pledged no top down organisation to the NHS and on his billboards stated that he’d “cut the deficit, not the NHS”. Instead, borrowing is up, services are being cut and top-down reforms are being imposed on the NHS against the will of the general public and health professionals. This has not gone unnoticed by voters, those that think David Cameron hasn’t delivered on his pre-election assurances over the NHS outnumber those that believe he has by three to one.
So, as with many things in politics, it all boils down to a matter of trust. Cameron promised one thing on our National Health Service and then seems to do the complete opposite, so why would the general public believe his reassurances about his health reforms?
The YouGov polling shows that the even Conservative Party supporters trust health professionals more than the prime minster and his health secretary. A whopping six times as many people trust health professionals than the Prime Minister and Lansley over the health reforms. But so far the Government’s response has been to rubbish the views of the people working in the NHS, caring for the British public. Healthcare professionals have been accused of being self-serving, of seeking revenge over pensions and of not understanding the reforms. Ministers have traded on anti-union rhetoric to the debate when reacting to the decision of the BMA to call for the withdrawal of the bill. When in reality this is a centuries old professional body making a brave stand against a bill that they believe will be detrimental to patient care. The Prime Minster and the Health Secretary might not value their views, but the general public do and so do voters too.
The list of medical and royal colleges, unions, other health bodies, patient groups and charities which oppose the bill is growing daily, the latest being 150 members of the Royal College of Paediatricians concerned about the damage these reforms will do to health of children. It absolutely stands to reason that the people who work day in day out in the NHS are being listened to taken very seriously by the public.
This week MPs will have an opportunity to vote for the publication of the Department of Health’s Risk Register. This document will show an assessment of the potential risks of the Government’s plans. So far not even MPs or Peers have seen it, despite a ruling in November from the Information Commissioner that it should be published and shared. Imagine the uproar if patients were given a new medical drug where the possible side effects were unpublished. It would be incredible if MPs voted to remain in ignorance before the Bill became law.
So far 75 MPs including 13 Lib Dem MPs, have signed an Early Day Motion 2659 to call for its immediate publication. Please lobby your MP today and tomorrow do add their name too. If the government is confident about its reforms then it should publish the Department of Health Risk Register and this week.
Today’s poll shows the British public have full confidence in health professionals when it comes to the future of the NHS. The Prime Minister should too and drop his unworkable and unloved Bill before it’s too late.