In what might be seen as a good day to release bad news* the Labour announced that it will lift the ban on patients topping up their NHS care:
The bar on topping up NHS care by paying for drugs not available on the health service is to be lifted under plans drawn up by ministers in England.
Now I think that is a good thing, people should be allowed to spend their savings how they like without fear that the state will capriciously withdraw existing benefits to assuage the green eyed monsters. If you want an opposing view Dr Crippen sees this as the beginning of end of the NHS. However there is one thing we agree on:
A Tory government would never get away with it.Lets just imagine what would have happened if the Tories had proposed this measure:
A Tory government would not dare do it.
It would probably have been all over the BBC web site with their correspondents falling over themselves to proclaim the end of the NHS in their very best "told you so" patronising way. What do we get? A short story tucked away on the Health pages.
The there is the health unions. Surely we could expect their leaders to be queuing up to condemn the evil Labour? If it had been the Tories we would expect them to be battering down the studio doors of Radio 4 to get their strike threats heard. So what do we get from them? You would expect them to be screaming from their rooftops but Unison's front page's main story is some wibble from Prentis praising Gordon Brown, with a short press release condemning the move tucked away at the side.
What about the BMA then. Arent they supposed to be protecting the NHS? They certainly went mad when the Tories started to apply a bit of market forces in the 90's. Going on about the end of the NHS and we can't trust the Tories. So their position:
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, agreed the best solution had probably been reached.OK, one last bastion of NHS protection left, the Royal College of Nurses, surely they will save the NHS? Bugger all on their web site either.
It was always said that only Labour could reform the NHS, just like only the Tories could make changes to the Armed forces. Some expected Labour to make those changes in the first flush of their 1997 success, but they didn't, they scrapped the Tory's internal market, just as it was starting to work, and then hosed it with money.
And before I rush off lets just remember that 1997 election slogan: 24 Hours to Save the NHS
*bad news for die hard NHS supporters