NHS reforms: Lib Dem members opposed by 2-to-1 majority

by Stephen Tall on February 9, 2012

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 570 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

LDV asked: The Health and Social Care Bill which will implement radical reforms to the NHS was passed by MPs last September. From what you have seen or heard about the Coalition’s plans for the NHS, do you support or oppose them?

    25% – Support
    49% – Oppose
    26% – Don’t know / No opinion

So, by a two-to-one margin, Lib Dem members in our survey are opposed to the Coalition’s NHS reforms. This is a significant shift in opinion against the Bill since last we asked the question — in September we recorded a slimmer margin of opposition, 43% to 37%. More than a quarter of party members are unsure.

Quite simply, the Coalition has failed to persuade Lib Dem members of the merits of the the NHS reforms (in stark contrast to the also-controversial benefits cap) — so small wonder that the wider public are also unconvinced.

Here’s a sample of your comments:

I back the changes. They’re not perfect but if the BMA is against it it’s usually a sign that it’s a good idea. We need to break up vested interests in the NHS.

The bill appears to accomplish very little. Most of the good and bad parts have been watered down to the point where it is unlikely to change things much.

I chose support, although weakly so. I think the timing of such reforms is wrong. I do not fundamentally object to the private sector having a larger role to play in healthcare provision so long as it is free at the point of need and that the key criterion used is quality rather than cost when care is provided.

PCTs were an inefficient layer of management bureaucracy too far removed from patients. Support for those procuring will be required though to ensure they are equipped with the skills necessary to achieve value for money in obtaining supplies and services.

In general, decent to good ideas that have been lost in a sea of mud-slinging and political vitriol.

We said we wouldn’t reorganise the NHS. What matters is service, not structure. Deeply concerned that there has been an attempt to open the NHS to more private provision.

Mixed feelings. I do not feel that the case for change has been clearly made but the opposition does not seem soundly based either.

Now is not the time to be doing something so overarching. Some bits of the reforms are very good but it’s simply too complex to do whilst abiding by spending constraints.

Of course I support the idea of decentralising decision making. Objection that I’m aware of seems to just be along the lines of “private companies are evil”. As long as a good standard of care is present and the service remains free at the point of need I’m not fussed about who is providing the care. There may be an argument for not doing this at a time of budgetary restraint but I understand why now and not later.

Reforms should be deferred. Reducing the deficit is the top priority & reforms at this stage interfere with that.

With GP commissioning no provider/purchaser split. Will introduce private companies who will when suits undermine local hospitals. Commissioning will create more organisations/bloated bureaucracy than previously. So where are the savings no wonder so many hospitals now facing having to make huge savings/reductions in services. My local hospital now having to find £37million and other local acute hospital/trust mergers to take place to save £237million. What a farce!

I think the whole thing has become such a mess it shld be scrapped. Don’t think there was need anyway for the use of legislation in this way. Changes cld have been effected without it.

The more I understand about this Bill, the less I like it. I am a competition lawyer and I dread to think what the impact of competition will be on the NHS. I suspect that only people like myself will be the winners.

There are many things that could be done to reduce costs in the NHS. Changing the whole structure is not in my view one of them.

Efficiences, yes; reconfiguration, yes; clinical commissioning; yes. This could all have been achieved through much less disruptive reforms, and without giving it all the sheen of privatisation.

I want our manifesto commitments to be implemented – more choice, local accountability – and the HSC bill does neither.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 570 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 31st January and 4th February.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.