Bob Bury

Reveal the risks of implementing the Health Bill

Well, here we go again. As Circle come riding to the rescue of the struggling Hinchingbrooke Hospital, we learn that their risk exposure is to be limited to £7m, which equates to approximately 0.7% of the NHS funds it will be responsible for over the term of the contract. Any surpluses they make will be split between Circle and the NHS.

Sound familiar? It should, because it was the estimate of ‘risk’ that was used to make the now discredited PFI initiative of the previous government look so attractive. By artificially inflating the level of risk to which the companies tendering for contracts would be exposed, the politicians made the business cases for PFI stack up. Of course, it turned out that these contracts were not actually very risky at all, which is why companies were able to make profits from building the new hospitals and then make another load of dosh by milking the NHS for the next 30 years as they maintain the buildings.

In fact, the risk was actually so low that a secondary market in PFI contracts sprang up, with quite a few firms taking the profit from putting the buildings up, then selling the contracts on for another fat profit to other providers who still felt able to get a good return on their investment from managing the PFI estate.

I suppose we should be grateful that this time the politicians are at least being up front about the way they are skewing the rules to the advantage of the private sector, but it does indicate that in their rush to involve new providers, the playing field will be far from level.

Still, no-one could accuse Andrew Lansley of being ‘up front’ in his attempts to get his pernicious Health and Social Care Bill through the Lords. Despite being ordered by the Information Commissioner to reveal the contents of the strategic risk register relating to the Bill, he is still stonewalling, on the grounds that publication of the report would ‘jeopardise the success of the policy’.

Well, quite. In other words, Lansley knows that the report, which details the risks for the NHS of implementing his changes, will confirm that the fears many of us have are well-founded, and might just lead the Peers to vote it down, or insist on root and branch amendments. Actually, now I think about it I’m wrong. He is not just being up front, he is being frankly shameless by effectively admitting that he can only get the Bill through if he stifles any debate on its likely adverse effects.

I hope readers will join me and many others in emailing their MP and asking them to tell Lansley to comply with the commissioners demands to release the report. It’s easy – just click here.

And to think it was only 18 months ago that we were hugging ourselves in relief that we’d got shot of New Labour. They really are all the same, aren’t they?

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4 Responses to “Reveal the risks of implementing the Health Bill”

  1. tom goodfellow says:

    Bob

    Please post something funny next time.

    I am getting so depressed with all this stuff, true though it is!

  2. Bob Bury says:

    I’ll try, Tom. In the meantime, Jerry Nelson is back to cheer us all up!

  3. Mark II says:

    Looks like Lansley is going to have to reveal his dirty laundry after all …

    http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7407

  4. Bob Bury says:

    Yes Mark, but he’s still stone-walling, and it looks as if he might string it out long enough to get the bill through the Lords.vvc65

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