Nick Robinson notes Lib Dems’ “important injection of democracy” into Coalition’s NHS plans

by Stephen Tall on July 14, 2010

Mark Pack yesterday noted Lib Dem health minister Paul Burstow’s hand at work in the NHS White Paper – it’s a theme also picked up today by the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, who comments on his blog:

The proposals for a re-organisation of the NHS included a fundamental and little-noticed change from those contained in either the Conservative manifesto or the coalition agreement. The government now plan to give councils a major new strategic health role, examining the purchasing decisions of GPs and fitting them together with their plans for public health and social care. For the Lib Dems, this represents an important injection of democracy into the new health market. For the Tories, it allows them to propose the abolition of primary care trusts altogether instead of, as originally discussed, having to hold elections to them.

He also notes the coalition process by which the reform plans were put together:

This was the result of the first negotiated departure from the coalition agreement. First the Tory Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and his Lib Dem deputy, Paul Burstow had to agree. Then they had to persuade the Tory Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles. Then the idea had to be taken to the cabinet home affairs committee chaired by the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Finally, it had to be approved by the coalition committee which considers any major departures from the original agreement.

A reminder to LDV readers: Lib Dem MP John Pugh, Co-Chair of the party’s Backbench Health Committee, is actively seeking the views of party members. Click here for further details.