Should the NHS reforms be ditched? Vote now

The government's controversial proposals to shake-up the NHS in England are back in the headlines.

Opposition to the changes, which would see a greater involvement by the private sector in the NHS, has grown to include the Labour party, some Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors, members of the House of Lords from all parties, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the British Medical Association, the health union Unison and, most recently, the influential Tory-backed website ConservativeHome.

According to reports, three members of the cabinet are now urging that the legislation - which has spent over a year being debated in parliament - be dropped.

Have your say

What should happen to the government's plans to shake-up the NHS in England?

14861 responses

  1. All the proposals should become law as soon as possible

    15%
  2. All the proposals should be dropped immediately

    64%
  3. They should all be kept, but the plans for more private sector involvement should be dropped

    10%
  4. They should all be dropped, but the plans for wider GP commissioning should stay

    11%

And this week the Times quoted a Downing Street insider as saying that Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, should be "taken out and shot".

But what would you like the government to do?

The purpose of the shake-up, which only applies to the NHS in England, is to:

  • encourage greater competition with the private sector
  • extend the involvement within the NHS of the private sector and charities
  • give GPs and other clinicians more responsibility for spending budgets

The government argues that it needs to make these changes to make the NHS more efficient. Costs in the NHS are rising at a much higher rate than inflation, thanks to the UK's ageing population, the price of new drugs and treatments, and lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking.

As a result the government wants the NHS to make savings of up to £20bn by 2015.

Such a spending cut is only possible, ministers argue, if a radical shake-up is made of the way the NHS allocates its resources and uses the private sector.

In the words of the health secretary Andrew Lansley:

"It is because the NHS matter so much, because we believe in the values of the NHS, we have to be prepared to reform."

Opposition to the changes is rooted in a belief that the founding principle of the NHS - free health care for all, regardless of where you are or how much you earn - will be compromised, both by the increased involvement of the private sector and by the commissioning of services and treatment happening at a local level rather than by larger, more strategic authorities.

Cathy Warwick, of the Royal College of Midwives, has said:

"The government has failed to present evidence that the upheaval will result in an improvement in services to the people of England. And they have failed to answer the concerns of the people who fear for the future of the NHS under these plans."

Meanwhile the legislation that would see all the government's proposals become law is nearing its passage through parliament, and is timetabled to be completed within the next three months.

What should happen now? Have your say in the poll above.