The thing about orthopaedic surgeons is they like to like to throw things about. When not throwing prostheses at pretty nurses, or scalpels at pesky students, they like to throw prime ministers off wards. Mr Cameron and his retinue were excised from Guy’s Hospital the other day, as swiftly and effectively as a bunion from Miss Marple’s foot. The only thing missing in the drama was a red flashing light at the centre of the surgeon’s bow tie.
Meanwhile, Alan Milburn, late of the Red Party, has taken the Daz Blue Rinse Test, and been found to be whiter than white. He hasn’t just nailed his colours to the mast, he has sprayed them all over the Torygraph. He has accused the coalition of being lily-livered Yellow Bastards, every sad-man-jack of them. Their health reforms are ‘the biggest car crash in NHS history’ – and that’s just for starters. It’s a wonder it wasn’t the biggest train crash in history. Next up were skidding tyres, and the stench of sharp U-turns. The assault on one’s senses let alone sensibilities was overwhelming. One hoped the Torygraph air-bags were up to the impact that was surely to come; but in the end it didn’t, because having left the air filled with the stink of burning rubber, Mr Milburn veered off the automotive imagery, and took to hammering a busted flush of ten inch nails into the coalition coffin.
Bang! Elevation of ‘short-term politics above long-term policy’! Bang! Neglect and foolish ‘policy-wonking’! Bang! ‘The U-turn slows the pace of reform and dramatically dilutes its impact’! Bang! The national NHS Commissioning Board – the ‘daddy of all quangos’! Bang, bang, bang! ‘The debacle has set back for a generation the cause of market-based NHS reform’! Bang bang bang bang bang! In short – bang! – ‘This NHS debacle sets us back a generation’! Bang BANG!
Now, Dr No has been saying for some time that the NHS privatisation project isn’t just a Tory project, oh no. All the major – if that isn’t too flattering a word – parties want to get the NHS off government books, all for the same reason: too much crumble taking too much of the cream. ‘Everyone,’ Milburn tells us, in a momentary lull from hammering, ‘knows the NHS cannot stand still in the face of demographic change and medical advance. Reform is a constant necessity.’ Sure – just as certain sharks need to keep moving to survive.
When the time has come that an ex Labour minister berates a Tory led Lib-Dem coalition government for lacking zeal in the pursuit of an market-based NHS, we can be left in no doubt that all the parties, and whoever is in power, intend to pursue the same objective: a market-based, privatised (ex-National) Health Service.
Oh – and by the way – the ambiguity in the title of this post is intended.