Emergency Motion 4: NHS White Paper
10 conference representatives
Conference notes the recent government white paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS.
Conference further notes that existing Liberal Democrat policy:
A. Proposes increased local accountability for the NHS through directly elected Local Health Boards.
B. Supports empowerment of patients and equity for patients, particularly those with mental health problems.
C. Acknowledges the risk of destabilisation of NHS services through the use of private sector providers and sets criteria to minimise this risk.
Conference believes that:
i) The NHS is best served by co-operation and collaboration between hospitals.
ii) The patients with some of the most difficult healthcare requirements, such as elderly patients with multiple medical conditions, are likely to benefit the least from a competitive market, and suffer most where there is lack of co-ordination between providers of services.
iii) GP-led commissioning consortia are unlikely to have sufficient expertise in negotiating contracts to eliminate the risk of exploitation by corporate suppliers, and will need to procure specialised and often more expensive commissioning support, creating significant potential for conflicts of interest.
iv) A more fragmented health service often leads to poor opportunities for clinical training.
v) The white paper proposals will tend to increase choice and service provision in affluent and densely populated areas, and by attracting more services to the centres of population will reduce or remove services in poorer and more sparsely populated areas.
In particular conference restates the principles that every provider should:
a) Meet all NHS standards for Quality, Information and Communication.
b) Demonstrate that it provides value for money and does not undermine the local health
c) Ensure that no NHS patient shall receive a diminished service as a result of the introduction of a new provider.
Conference therefore urges the Coalition Government to:
1. Legislate to ensure that no company or organisation that offers services in support of the
commissioning process should either provide healthcare services directly, or have commercial links to a company or organisation that provides healthcare services.
2. Include in their plans explicit powers for local authorities to intervene if local services are at risk.
3. Ensure that any contract with a provider that does not train clinical staff should include a levy to support training of clinical staff in NHS facilities.
Conference also calls on all Liberal Democrat-led local authorities to use the proposed strategic role given to them in the white paper to protect the sustainability of an integrated health service, and to improve cooperation and communication between providers.
This is an interesting motion, not the best (that would be to scrap the entire white paper) but it shows that some LibDems are not happy with the intention that hospitals should "compete for patients" (not co-operate and collaborate as mentioned in the motion). The motion also infers that the white paper will fragment the NHS (this is the result of making every hospital a social enterprise) and that this will be bad for patients. It also says that the likely effect of the white paper proposals will be to provide a worse service in less affluent and more sparsely populated areas. Further, in reference to Lansley's intention to close hospitals by not "bailing them out" the motion says that local authorities should have explicit powers to do this.
I doubt if the Lib Dems have enough backbone to challenge Lansley this way, but it will be nice if they do.