Observations Body Politic

Are the Conservatives serious?

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4847 (Published 17 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4847
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}btinternet.com

    David Cameron’s party is incoherent on its plans for the NHS

    How seriously should we be taking the Conservatives’ plans for the NHS? At one level, obviously, very seriously indeed: they could well be the policy of the next government, within six months or so.

    But are their plans serious in the sense of being a well considered, carefully argued, and defensible set of policies that will make for a better NHS? That isn’t a given, as we saw when Labour was elected in 1997 with little more in its manifesto than a promise to cut waiting lists (a bit) and to abolish the Tories’ internal market. By coming in with such a weak hand, Labour wasted at least two years.

    Given the financial constraints, there isn’t time for the Conservatives to ride a similar learning curve. So policy analysts have been poring over David Cameron’s speech to the Royal College of Pathologists on 2 November, the most comprehensive account yet of Conservative plans. Does it gel? Or is it simply a list of aspirations, contradictory promises, and wishful thinking?

    As a political platform, it lacks oomph. There isn’t a single central idea in it that …

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