According to reports, which cited a leaked government document, the changes would pull back on private sector and local involvement in the health service, giving the Secretary of State for Health more responsibility as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
In 2012, then-Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, working under Prime Minister David Cameron, controversially introduced the 2012 Health and Social Care Act which – as explained by the BBC – “gave more control over budgets to GPs and other clinicians, while greater competition with the private sector was encouraged.”
The BBC reported on Saturday that Johnson’s proposed changes “would see a reduced role for the private sector, while a system of contracts being put out to tender, with health groups sometimes competing against each other, would be scrapped.”
News of the planned reversal drew mostly positive reactions in the UK, with many supporting the scrapping of some of Lansley’s policies.
“Andrew Lansley’s ‘reforms’ of the NHS were imposed despite opposition by every Health professional body, while most of the media remained silent. Their removal, if real, is to be welcomed,”tweeted one Brit.
HuffPost UK’s Executive Editor of Politics, Paul Waugh, was also optimistic, noting that, though the plans hint at “much less operational independence for the NHS” and “more ministerial control,” things that the NHS has had control over during the Covid-19 pandemic, like “vaccination rollout” tend to “have gone well, whereas things it has no control over,” like the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), have gone “less well.”
Critics, however, have expressed concern over the “little detail” provided in the plans so far, while Robert Colvile, the director of the pro-free market Centre for Policy Studies, commented: “I don’t have much fondness for the Lansley reforms but am worried that we’re also squeezing out choice/market mechanisms from the NHS.”
“They don’t work perfectly but command and control is even worse,” he argued.
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