I was glad to see, in Sam Knight’s cover story, that health secretary Andrew Lansley has come finally clean about his plans for a top-down reorganisation of the NHS. In doing so, however, he reveals not only the government’s readiness to break promises on the health service, but also his own tunnel vision in the face of widespread criticism from patient groups, professional bodies and health experts. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that he is working in isolation from his colleagues in cabinet and elsewhere.
At a time when our health service is showing signs of strain, the reorganisation he has set out is high risk, high cost, a danger to the commissioning of key health services, and an unnecessary distraction from the need to find efficient services. The last Conservative health secretary, Stephen Dorrell, now chair of the health select committee, has recognised the latter; Oliver Letwin, meanwhile, has been tasked with reviewing Lansley’s plans—a decision that anybody concerned with the future of the NHS should welcome.
John Healey is the Shadow Secretary of State for Health