The beginning of the end for the Health & Social Care Bill?

Will Davies

Later this year my younger brother will complete his degree in medicine. At the same time, in a wonderful moment of symmetry, our father will retire from the NHS after 35 years.

Like our father, grandfather and great grandfather before him my brother will spend his professional life caring for our nation’s health. However, unlike his forebears, he will have to deal with an increasingly ageing population combined with a spiralling level of chronic disease.

Having completed six years of study, what kind of Health Service will lie in wait for my brother and his fellow graduates? After the events of the past week, we are no closer to knowing.

The Government’s controversial and divisive Health reforms continue to stagnate. Today, grassroots website ConservativeHome called on David Cameron to drop the Health and Social Care Bill altogether. In a startling move, founder Tim Montgomerie stated his willingness to side line his ideological instincts in order to prevent a negative impact at the polls. To add to the intrigue Mr Montgomerie claims his views have the backing of three Conservative Cabinet Ministers, while the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson claims as many as 12 Ministers ‘want the Bill killed.’

On Wednesday, the House of Lords voted against the Health & Social Care Bill, while earlier that same day the Prime Minister was forced to defend the proposed legislation that Ed Miliband described as “a disaster.” The vitriolic opposition to the proposals continue, while the silence from Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat colleagues on the issue has been deafening.

The impact of this should not be underestimated. Uncertainty is rife among clinicians and patients alike, as they wait to see if the biggest shake up of the NHS since its inception will actually be implemented. Whatever your views on the Bill, at the moment confusion reigns, and that is surely bad for all of us.

What kind of NHS awaits my brother as he embarks upon his professional career? I guess time will tell.

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