Conservative Cabinet ministers have “rung the alarm bell” about the government’s NHS reforms with one comparing it to the poll tax, it was claimed today.
Influential website ConservativeHome warned the highly contentious health service overhaul is “electorally fatal” and most of the plans must be ditched.
Its editor Tim Montgomerie claims the shake-up has been David Cameron’s “greatest mistake” and said there is a “feeling” the prime minister “isn’t listening” to the party.
He believes all the “problems” the NHS faces as a result of budget pressures “will be blamed unfairly” on the reforms.
In a blog, he wrote: “Speaking to ConservativeHome, three Tory Cabinet ministers have now also rung the alarm bell. One was insistent the Bill must be dropped. Another said health secretary Andrew Lansley must be replaced. Another likened the NHS reforms to the poll tax. The consensus is that the prime minister needs an external shock to wake him to the scale of the problem.”
He adds: “David Cameron’s greatest political achievement as leader of the opposition was to neutralise health as an issue. The greatest mistake of his time as prime minister has been to put it back at the centre of political debate.”
The government has already been forced to make more than 100 changes to the Health and Social Care Bill but the concessions have failed to quell critics, including a raft of medical professional bodies such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Montgomerie said one Cabinet minister rang him “worrying” about the bill on Tuesday following the publication of a column in the Times that claimed a No 10 advisor said Mr Lansley should be “taken out and shot”.
He said Mr Lansley was a man of “great intellectual ability” but had “lost the confidence” of the medical professions.
“So, I think we need a new secretary of health to be the front person for this important area of public policy.
“I wrote this blog this morning because I think… the feeling is, David Cameron isn’t listening enough to internal party feeling and this is why I have gone public,” he said.
“I think it will be a millstone around the Conservative party’s neck because all problems will be blamed on the bill unfairly.”
He said it would be “humiliating” in the short run to ditch the controversial elements of the bill but “at least the NHS will be taken off the table”.