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When the House of Lords recently passed Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Bill, there was no coverage on BBC News. The significance and contentiousness of this legislation, which opens the NHS up to a free market in healthcare, was explained here by Savi Hensman.
The United Kingdom Independence Party won around a quarter of the votes in wards where it fielded candidates in English local elections. Mainstream parties may be tempted to shift even further to the right in order to win over UKIP voters. But this might end up losing them electoral support, as well as being unjust and deepening rifts in society.
The House of Lords has backed regulations promoting privatisation of NHS services in England. An Opposition attempt to overturn the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2 Regulations 2013) was defeated by a ruling Coalition majority of over a hundred votes. Holders of NHS budgets are likely to be forced to put more services out to tender, giving lucrative opportunities to private firms even if this harms patient care.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has attacked mediocre hospitals that “cruise along” rather than striving for “world class levels of excellence”. He referred to Mid Staffordshire, where failings led to unnecessary suffering and death.
A report on why Mid Staffordshire hospital failings went unchecked for so long makes important points. Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry, avoided the temptation to blame all that went wrong on a few people who could then be punished, or call for yet another round of reorganisation. Instead he revealed disturbing flaws in the culture of the NHS and other agencies linked with health and social care.