Andrew Lansley has received an overwhelming vote of noconfidence after 99% of delegates at the Royal College of Nursing conferencegave the Health Secretary the thumbs down.
The drastic reforms to the NHS, as announced by Mr Lansley lastyear, have not gained him a win in the popularity contest following continuedcriticism from all sides. The latest vote of no confidence at the conference inLiverpool is a further dent in his armour after he previously claimed most NHSstaff were in favour of his healthcare reforms.
The main theme to come out of the conference was that thegovernment should reconsider its proposed changes to the NHS, with delegatesvoicing concerns over mental health, older people, care of the homeless andthose with long-term conditions, as well as the future of newly qualifiednurses.
In an interview with BBC World at One, Peter Carter, RCNgeneral secretary, said nurses were genuinely concerned about what washappening to the health service.
“What I find so interesting about the debate this morning,it wasn’t nurses complaining about their pay, or their terms and conditions,not even their pensions came into it, it honestly held sincere concerns aboutwhat was happening to clinical services… What they did today was send out avery clear message to the government: think again.”
The Health Secretary was further attacked after he decidedto cancel a keynote speech at the conference, instead preferring to conduct a“listening exercise” with about 60 nurses to discuss the reforms.
This exercise follows the announcement of a pause in thepassage of the health and social care bill through parliament following thenumber of concerns that have been raised, including the speed at which thereforms would take place.
“We’ve already amended the bill and we will amend it furtherin order to make absolutely certain that some of the myths that are beingpropagated are dealt with, some of the misconceptions are dealt with,” Mr Lansleywas reported as saying.
Meanwhile, Labour has published a dossier identifyingfive risks to the future of the NHS should the reforms go ahead. These include:hospitals being at risk of being fined for breaching EU competition law; majordecisions could end up being made by the courts not the NHS; NHS hospitalscould effectively go bust like commercial organisations under insolvency laws;priority would be allowed to go to private patients; andGPs wouldbe given the power to charge for services.
“This bill is a Pandora’s Box,” Labour leader Ed Miliband said at apress conference. “The more people look at the detail, the more profound andworrying the implications appear to be for the NHS… The answer to a bad bill isnot to slow it down but to junk it.”