After the headlines generated by the NHS Future Forum report and the government’s response to it, the 181 amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, published on 23 June, received more muted coverage.
But despite palpable health reform fatigue and the landslide of legalese to sift through, a couple of interesting nuggets on the reforms emerged in the national press.
In Monday’s Guardian, British Medical Association chair Hamish Meldrum repeated warnings that rewarding GPs for enforcing budgetary controls could lead patients to suspect their doctors no longer put their interests first.
In the Sunday Telegraph, columnist Janet Daley suggested the process of compromise over its health policy could provide the coalition with lessons in how to execute future reform.
She argued that the most radical measures could be left to departmental guidance. This quieter approach, she mooted, would amount to a kind of “stealth” reform that mirrored Labour’s “stealth taxes”.
Elsewhere the national press sought to move on from the recent saturation coverage of the bill.
The Sunday Times picked up an HSJ story from May about the difficulties faced by the Lansley family in working out who was in charge of caring for the health secretary’s dying father in late 2010. The Daily Mail ran a version of the story the following day.
The issue of how to pay for social care for older people also gathered momentum, ahead of findings from the Dilnot Commission, expected in July.
The Observer reported suggestions of a Cabinet split and a re-run of the pre-election “death tax” row. The Telegraph helped prepare the case for reform, with a warning from charity leaders of a “catastrophic breakdown” unless the system was overhauled.