Lilley highlights health and pensions failures

- Friday, 15th November 2002

 

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, last Thursday (14th November)
launched a strong attack on the Government?s failure to tackle the looming
pensions crisis and the lack of patient choice in the Health Service.
Speaking in the opening debate on the Queen?s speech in the House of
Commons, Mr. Lilley argued for greater patient choice and called for
relevant measures to deal with the crisis in pensions.

Peter Lilley said after the debate:

"The Prime Minister?s response to the Queen?s Speech was one of the weakest
performances I have ever heard from a prime minister seeking to defend his
government?s programme. For a Queen?s Speech that was more notable for its
omissions than for its legislative proposals, there was little that he said
which sought to justify and defend his Government?s record and plans for the
future. Instead, he spent most of his speech misrepresenting Conservative
policies and delivering an unwarranted personal attack on the Leader of the
Opposition.

"Sadly, we no longer have the right to choose a hospital other than that to
which our local health bureaucracy is contracted to send us. A fortnight
ago I introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to restore this choice - which the
Government removed three years ago. Although the government now talk about
?patient choice? the government?s programme contains almost none of the
steps which I explained are essential to make choice effective choice.:
first, to restore a patient?s choice of hospital; second, to provide much
more information to patients on hospital outcomes, waiting lists and
cleanliness; third, to make money follow choice and fourthly, to make
hospitals genuinely independent.
"Far from delivering choice and diversity in healthcare, New Labour continue
to centralise and merge services without providing practical evidence to
show that this produces improved outcomes for patients. This is
particularly evident in Hertfordshire, where proposals for a new hospital
would simply siphon off capacity from existing hospitals and result in no
extra beds - not to mention the closure of what remains of St. Albans
hospital.

"There is nothing in the Government?s programme to deal with the crisis in
pensions. Many people in Hitchin and Harpenden are already suffering from
the Chancellor?s ?5 billion raid on pension funds. The reality is that
Ministers have lapsed into a state of indecision and paralysis over this
very serious situation. We do not need a prolonged Royal Commission to
achieve consensus on this issue. What we do need are sensible measures to
encourage much greater private provision and more incentives to save than
exist at present. I am working on my own constructive proposals for
tackling the pensions crisis ."

 

 

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