THE BLOG
08/02/2012 06:22 GMT | Updated 08/04/2012 06:12 BST

This NHS Bill is Bad - It and Mr Lansley Should Be Given the Boot!

The government's Health and Social Care Bill needs to be binned and Andrew Lansley needs to be replaced as the Secretary of State for Health.

The government's Health and Social Care Bill needs to be binned and Andrew Lansley needs to be replaced as the Secretary of State for Health.

After years with this brief (both in opposition and in government) Mr Lansley really should have been better prepared than he apparently was, should have known what kind of reaction this Bill would generate amongst health professionals and, more importantly, the general public.

Should have known that going from pledging, before the election, "no top-down reorganisation of the NHS" to this complete over-hall, would be hugely controversial and hugely unpopular.

When even those who we were lead to believe backed it-such as a number of doctors quoted in the national press this week-are now coming out against, surely those with their eyes and ears open must know the final whistle has been blown.

Make no doubt about it, this has been a Tory Bill, one cooked up by Lansley and his colleagues.

My party's representatives in parliament have done their best to make it better.

The likes of Dr Evan Harris and the great Baroness Shirley Williams have forced the Conservatives into a number of humiliating u-turns.

On things such as forcing the Secretary of State to take ultimate responsibility for the NHS, when he wanted to relinquish that.

On things like reducing the amount of potential private involvement.

These were important Liberal Democrat led changes, but even these have been unable to rescue this Bill from the perilous state it's now in.

What Mr Lansley and his boss Mr Cameron seemingly fail to understand is that the National Health Service is the most beloved institution in this country.

It is, over and above that, a progressive institution; thought up by a Libreral, implemented by Labour.

The Tories opposed its creation in the 1940's and-for all of David Cameron's protestations-if they were able to have their way, many believe they'd fragment it, piece by piece, they would make it no longer a national health provider, free-at-the-point-of-use.

They'd let the markets run wild, let private users use more and more of the beds and theatre time.

This is not what the NHS is about.

I was born in an NHS hospital in 1980, I've had a couple of operations in NHS hospitals, my parents have both used NHS hospitals, as did my Grandparents.

We, like families up and down this United Kingdom, think of the NHS not just as a service but, in our hearts, as a representation of what our nation is about.

Just as the competition driven, get treated if you can afford it health provision in the United States says something about its national psyche, so our care for all, free-at-the-point-of-use National Health Service says something about ours.

That we care for our lesser brethren, that our nation is not about what you can afford but what you can expect as a basic human right.

Is the NHS perfect? No. Does it need some tweaks to make it work better? Yes.

But what it does not need is another reorganization, to be told yet again-from Whitehall-what is good for it.

We need to be working with health service providers, patients groups and others to ensure we have a 21st Century service which lives up to those old values which so many of us hold dear.

I know eating humble pie doesn't come easy to any prime minister, but Cameron needs to swallow his pride, sack his Health Secretary, and bin this bad Bill.

Then let's work together to ensure we have the best National Health Service we can.

If he plows on with these reforms, Mr Cameron may find it's his Premiership that's on life support.