IT is now almost one year since Britain's coalition government introduced its Health and Social Care Bill of reforms to the National Health Service. I doubt that any recent piece of legislation has had such a rough passage from public reaction and in the two Houses of Parliament as this one.
The almost universal dissatisfaction of health professionals was followed by its rejection at the Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference and then by David Cameron's pause for further consultation. Even so the obtuse Health Minister Andrew Lansley gave as little ground as possible and only two weeks ago a government amendment provided for the cap on income earned by the NHS from private patients to be raised from five to fifty per cent. The Bill is now nearing its final stages in the House of Lords but yesterday the Royal College of General Practitioners released a survey of 2'600 family doctors which showed 90 per cent of them opposed to the increased involvement of the private sector and three-quarters ready to support a call for the complete withdrawal of the Bill.
Meanwhile, this week the House of Lords inflicted a triple defeat of the government's plans to cut the length of support for cancer patients and the disabled under its Welfare Support Bill reforms. Mr Cameron's claim that health services are safe with him doesn't stand up.