The Tory health policy – such as it is – is based on the Kinnockite principle of “trust the professionals.” A story in GP magazine shows what naïve nonsense this is. It suits GPs to get through patients as quickly as they can, rather than explaining to them the government’s choice agenda and talking them through their rights to select different hospitals for surgery. In a survey, the magazine has found that 42% of GPs “have dropped Choose and Book in response to the pay freeze”.
The government’s “choice” policy is useless if GPs refuse to implement it. And despite being paid on average £106,000 and not working weekends, they are refusing to do so, apparently in protest at not getting more cash.
Proof, again, about the real issues in public sector reform. Ministerial power is illusory. Unions ingeniously divert extra money into salaries and shorter working hours. The user, the public, is short-changed. The system resists reforms in a hundred different ways: whether its GPs refusing to play ball with the “choice” agenda, or local authorities like Tower Hamlets outrageously refusing Goldman Sachs’ offer of £2m to open a City Academy. The mission of public service reform is to pass power from the bureaucrats to the public. Latterly, Blair understood this. I am not at all sure that Cameron does.