Monday, 4 April 2011

Retreat or feint?

The media are widely reporting that the NHS changes are being drastically watered down, and even talk of a complete U turn on the part of the government. This is being viewed as a major victory for those who have campaigned against the reforms.

But I am not so sure. It all seems to have been a little too easy. Those GPs I have spoken to may have had differing views on the reforms, but all were more or less resigned to commissioning going ahead, and were busily engaging with the transition. All government had to do was press on and it would all have happened. 

It is possible that they have not had the courage of their convictions, or the confidence that it would all work and have caved in to what was in all truth a bluff from the BMA and others. This would require a degree of unintelligence and spinelessness that I don’t buy.

But maybe there is another alternative. Perhaps they knew that any proposals whatsoever coming from a Conservative government would be bitterly opposed by various quarters. Logically they may have released proposals going far beyond what they actually wanted to achieve, and then, in the face of the inevitable opposition, retreat back to a position which gives the impression of compromise, but is actually what they were aiming for all along. 

I welcome the concessions, if that is what they are. In particular the intention to closely regulate any private sector involvement is to be welcomed. We don’t want a repetition of the PFI scandal do we?

Government are being portrayed as weak, dithery and indecisive over this. Maybe. But the revisions to the proposed reforms are likely to lessen what resistance there was, and perhaps those who opposed the reforms have been cleverly manipulated.

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