So the fighting is over, now comes the reconciliation. David Cameron’s concessions on the health bill – giving more leeway on GP-led commissioning and changing the role of the medical regulator (Monitor) so it is no longer purely to promote competition – have made the breakthrough. Nick Clegg is willing to support the proposals and is telling his parliamentary party exactly that now.
There will be a statement next Tuesday by the NHS Future Forum on their views on what should happen to the service, but Cameron’s speech has made that less relevant: he has made the key achievement of winning back the Lib Dems. The FF’s statement will be followed quickly by a ministerial statement and the coalition government will then take the reforms forward together.
The question now is whether each can take their own parties with them. The obvious problems will come at the Liberal Democrat end – Cameron’s repeated references to competition on Tuesday show he is not completely rejecting the Lansley reforms, even though some Lib Dems will settle for nothing less. Read more
It is hard not to conclude that Ed Miliband won the major clash of the day at PMQs* over the direction of NHS reform.
David Cameron cited today’s letter to the Telegraph from 42 GPs, saying they wanted what they called “evolution not revolution”.(They are all heads of recently-formed GPs’ consortia). Read more
Norman Lamb’s intervention on the NHS posed a tricky dilemma for Nick Clegg. In responding to the strong criticisms made by his closest aide, Clegg was likely to reveal his own thinking on how to fix NHS reforms.
Yet, if you read the papers today, you’ll see two very different interpretations of what Clegg wants. The clashing theories go something like this: Read more
David Cameron is warning that every individual will be hit by the coming cuts. But don’t expect the pain to be spread fairly across all groups. If the coalition agreement is anything to go by, the elderly will be given a free ride at the expense of everyone else.
We’re in the midst of a fiscal crisis, but there is hardly a perk left for over 60s — the most wealthy section of society (see IFS chart) — that hasn’t been protected by the coalition. Read more