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Lord Owen comments on the the NHS Foundation Trust deficit story

“At what stage will the stand alone Foundation Hospital advocates – who have dominated health policy  for 13 years – admit they were wrong? We have to return to comprehensive care provided across each geographical area, as spelt out in the NHS Bill.

“This Bill, now before the House of Commons in the name of Caroline Lucas is supported by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, other Labour MPs, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and John Pugh, Liberal Democrat MP. That progressive alliance in Parliament must now be supported by all the Royal Colleges and anyone committed to evidence based medicine. The evidence is now before us all: Foundation Hospitals have been a disaster. The Health and Social Care Act must be changed and the NHS Bill is the way to do it.”

Lord Owen hopes cooperation over Caroline Lucas’s NHS Bill could lead to a wider progressive alliance amongst the political parties.

The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.

This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge.  It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it.  I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis.   Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy.  It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election.  This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020.  If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.

This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out.  I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament.  It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.

 

 

The coming election will decide the future of the NHS, and with it, the United Kingdom.

The end of the NHS as we have known and understood it in England will take place before 2020 if whichever party or parties that win the 2015 general election does not change the 2012 NHS legislation ….around that moment the issue of Scottish independence will be back on the political agenda with a vengeance. The two are linked in more ways than have yet been fully recognised.

The New Statesman (online), 21 April 2015. 

Read the article here: The coming election

Lord Owen appears on BBC BOOKtalk to discuss his new book ‘The Health of the Nation: NHS in Peril’

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Watch the 15 minute programme here: BBC BOOKtalk (available until 26 February 2015)

The Health of the Nation: NHS in peril is Lord Owen’s latest book. On its release Lord Owen wrote in the Guardian:

“The Health and Social Care Act 2012 – engineered by the former health secretary Andrew Lansley – was a massive blunder, and even senior Conservative ministers now admit the scale of its disastrous repercussions.

“The main thrust of the Lansley project was to take the NHS down the American healthcare route, creating an external market and mandating the compulsory marketisation and commercialisation of services.

“Such a grave mistake as Lansley’s reform must be corrected. A reinstated NHS would be far better placed to provide a comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare service for England, which is similar, although not the same, in all parts of the UK. Repealing the 2012 act is not a realistic political option but its worst aspects can and must be excised, and the best opportunity to secure a commitment to doing that is before the 2015 election.”

Buy a copy of The Health of the Nation: NHS in peril from the Book Depository here: The health of the nation

Or, order direct from the publisher Methuen. Search for ISBN 978-0413777720

All profits from the book between now and the May 31st 2015 will go towards the  Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015

Lord Owen warns of the lessons to be learnt from the Hinchingbrooke Hospital scandal.

Article, published in The Guardian 19 January 2015

Hinchingbrooke has been a heavy defeat for an ideological solution that can work well in manufacturing or retailing, but runs into problems in healthcare.

Advocates of a market-led, partly privatised NHS for England have been saying for years that “what matters is what works”, dismissing those who believe in the 1948 NHS concept as ideological, old-fashioned or plain wrong.

Now that their flagship, Hinchingbrooke hospital, the only privately run NHS hospital in the country, is losing its private contractor, Circle, one might have expected the zealots to acknowledge the flawed nature of their policy? Not a bit of it. The arch priest of markets everywhere, the Economist, merely records that it “is just one of dozens in financial trouble”.

To read the full article please click here: Hinchingbrooke.

Health and Social Care Bill

 

Lord Owen continues campaign against present Health and Social Care Bill

26 May 2011

Following on from my paper “Fatally Flawed” I thought it might be of interest to readers to upload three papers prepared by Peter Roderick, a public interest lawyer. The first, NHS duty, summary, is a summary of his legal analysis, the second,  NHS duty, statutory provisions, covers the present legal situation covering the duty of the state to provide a national health service in England and third paper, NHS duty abolition legal analysis,  is a legal analysis of the abolition of this duty. read more…..

Fatally flawed: Yes to the NHS Internal Market – No to the External Market

Published on the Thursday, 31 March 2011

Download Paper here, in full including references.

Introduction

Prior to the 2010 General Election David Cameron, who was to become the new Prime Minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, had brilliantly defused the NHS as an issue which traditionally had won votes for Labour and lost votes for the Conservatives. read more…..

House of Lords Debate on NHS; Standards of Care and Commissioning

THURSDAY 31 MARCH 2011

Lord Owen (Crossbench)

The NHS is dear to us all, and the care and health professions have made a difference to pretty well every family in this country. However, the 353 pages of the Health and Social Care Bill are a massive reform, and we should not underrate the basic fatal flaws in this legislation, although of course there is much that we can all recommend and be pleased to see. read more…..