Sunday, 23 January 2011

GP commissioning reforms were always at the heart of the Coalition

Huge criticism this week of the Coalition's plans for GP commissioning, principally on the grounds that there is no mandate for such reform because it was never mentioned during the election campaign. This is quite wrong.

Caroline Spelman told the BBC Question Time audience on Thursday that page 46 of the Conservative manifesto outlines the plans and I'm greatful to @sjbaker for his tweet this morning pointing out that the Conservative Draft Health Manifesto published just over a year ago on Jan 18 2010 also says the party will give GP's the power to hold patients' budgets and commission care on their behalf. Seems pretty straight forward to me. It adds incidentally, that they will also link GP's pay to the quality of the results they deliver something we have not yet heard much about...

Well I think it's a nice idea says Polly Toynbee in this weeks Politics Weekly podcast from the Guardian. Surprisingly, she really is talking about GP commissioning of healthcare as proposed by the Coalition and continues in some ways (it is) quite rational that GP's should control the budget because GP's - these are the ones who really spend it - if so in the end their decision to refer someone to X or Y , if someone really needs this treatment, decides what the NHS spends, so it does make some sense. So why so much opposition to the reform? Because its from the Coalition of course. Pure tribalism as usual. 

It is right at the heart of this Coalition government that the people's interest should be put before those of vested interests - the producers. In every area of policy and under various different titles - big society, free schools, bottom-up politics, voting reform, localism - the people are being put first.

Increasingly Labour are finding themselves on the wrong side of this argument defending the producer interest in each case. As Janet Daly points out in a well argued article for today's Telegraph entitled Reform must be rushed, or it won't happen at all, the argument we weren't given enough warning really means we need time to organise obstruction to anything that interferes with our habitual ways of doing things. How very Labour.