David Cameron began the fight to save his NHS bill by convening a major summit with himself today to look at how best to implement his health reforms.
The Downing Street round table has already experienced controversy because some fringe groups which represent non-essential health professionals, such as GPs, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, paediatricians, midwives, physiotherapists, radiologists, pathologists and the BMA – all of whom oppose the government’s proposed health reforms, have been excluded owing to their hostility to the bill.
In a statement, Mr Cameron said he was happy to discuss anything with healthcare professionals, just so long as it wasn’t healthcare:
I am prepared to talk openly and frankly with anyone who agrees with me. I am more than happy to talk with any NHS professionals about anything – if it doesn’t involve me having to say I’m wrong.
The prime minister is determined to ride out the criticism of the reforms, mainly by not talking to anyone who knows anything at all about healthcare, but he also knows if the government is to get the measures on the statute book, he has to win back alienated health professionals by not inviting them to talk to him:
I am keen to discuss how best to implement the reforms with the many healthcare professionals in the country who support them, and that’s why there will only be me there. Although Lansley could come along too, I suppose.
No 10 declined to give details of attendees, but the list is thought to include the Prime Minister, possibly Mr Lansley the Health Secretary, and a couple of aides to serve the tea and biscuits.
The meeting indicates the government’s determination to press on with implementing its health bill, despite the massive opposition to it, and to continue with its policy of sticking its fingers in its ears and going lalalala whenever the bill is mentioned. And drinking tea.
A spokesperson for Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, when asked why his party was supporting the controversial bill despite its unpopularity, explained:
What NHS bill?
After it was pointed out that the government’s Health and Social Care Bill, which is due to be passed in the next few weeks, would represent the most radical changes in the NHS since it was set up and was facing serious criticism that it was being used by the government as a backdoor route to privatisation of the NHS, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:
Oh well, we don’t know anything about that. But I suppose if David and Andrew have said they want it to be law, we’ll support it because if we don’t we’ll only end up bringing down the government and then there will have to be an election – in which, as everyone knows, we’re going to completely wiped out. So f**k the NHS.
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