Monday, 19 March 2012

Health and Social Care Bill – Guest Blog 

Tom Lake, long time Labour and Health campaigner writes:

Parliament has just published the latest version of the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill.   The Bill starts out by naming a number of highly desirable duties placed on the Secretary of State for Health and then proceeds to deny him any powers to carry out these duties lest he interfere with the autonomy of any provider of the services.

The bill, currently with 472 pages, is substantially in the form of amendments to the National Health Service Act 2006, which currently has 286 pages.  No statement of the 2006 Act as it will be after the application of these amendments is provided – probably for fear that the public might find out what it is all about.

There is no straightforward order in which the present Bill can be read. For example, at section 13, subsection (8) the Bill prescribes a new paragraph (zza) to be inserted before paragraph za of section 272, subsection 6 of the 2006 Act (are you following me?).  But the 2006 Act has no such paragraph. Paragraph za of section 272 of the 2006 Act is actually inserted by section 179 subsection 8 of the present Bill (got that?) . So section 179 , subsection 8 of the Bill has to be read before section 13, subsection 8. In short ,it is a jumble. To place such a muddle before the sovereign and ask for her assent seems the height of disrespect.

The Government’s contribution to the health of the nation is indeed guided by  the maxim, “laughter is the best medicine”. But I fear we shall all be crying before too long.


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