Underground Medecin

Another story that hasn’t really got the attention it deserves is the news that David Cameron recently had a private meeting with Nurses for Reform, who, despite their cuddly sounding name don’t actually appear to be nurses* or ‘for reform’ unless by reforming the NHS you mean completely dismantling it. But then “libertarians and public affairs consultants/healthcare companies for wholesale privatisation of the NHS” doesn’t have quite the same voter-appeal, does it?

As Cameron says, he has meetings with many groups, but if he’s meeting a group like this then there are only a couple of likely explanations. Either someone (one of the shadow Health team?) has already met them, liked what they heard and lobbied to get them a meeting with the party leader. Or they’ve been sought out by Cameron’s team because what they’re saying adds a bit of “healthcare expert” credibility to what the Tories want to say, in a particularly voter-friendly way, being nurses and all that. Or there are personal connections in play, i.e. a friend of a friend. Whatever the explanation is, we ought to be taking this as a very serious sign of where Cameron’s sympathies lie.

*Their media spokesperson is an ex-nurse. This is her Twitter feed. I will leave you with a quote: “the only way forward is for less Government regulation and more market forces and self-regulation”… [for hospitals].

Actually no, I won’t leave you with that. I will insist you read her blog for the Adam Smith Institute, with recommendations for the ‘micropolitics of the hospital privatisation, starting with the suggestion that “in the post-bureaucratic age” the Secretary of State for Health should no longer have any say in when or where hospitals are built, opened or closed. (NB the Secretary of State is not a bureaucrat. He’s a democratically-elected politician. Who has been elected, inter alia, to protect and preserve our National Health Service). The stuff on locally-negotiated pay (for which read a race to the bottom on pay, terms and conditions, and training) is dynamite too. Cameron should publicly move to dissociate himself from this agenda now.

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