About seven years ago in a speech David Cameron defended his commitment to Britain's National Health Service in this way: Tony Blair once explained his priority in three words: education, education , education. I can do it in three letters: NHS. He deserves credit for that commitment even if to a degree it stemmed from personal rather than political experience. But by now he must be beginning to wonder whether his belief in the NHS is too big a political price to pay.
Yesterday the annual conference of the British Medical Association which represents 150'000 doctors passed a vote of no confidence in the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, accusing him of blaming front line NHS staff for predictable chaos resulting from government reforms and cuts.
These things happen, but they should happen in successive years -- almost exactly one year ago the BMA passed a similar vote of no confidence in Andrew Lansley, who was then the Health Minister, and called for his resignation.
The NHS is having a bad spell, most notably with the Mid Staffordshire and Morecambe Bay scandals, but Jeremy Hunt who succeeded Lansley last September has taken a very aggressive approach to the professionals in the wider system and cannot be surprised if they retaliate. Mr Hunt was not a success at the Department of Culture and his brusque style seems wrong for the complexities of the NHS.