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Not from concentrate: coalition juice runs clear – for now


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Monday, 24 May 2010

Not from concentrate: coalition juice runs clear – for now

Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Pinky and Perky – who knows what became of them all in the end?

One thing is for sure: whatever the appearance of harmony and unity, there were tensions beneath the surface. Who was better looking, who ended up with Little Weed, who had the best singing voice?

All double acts have their problems. Some of them last for years but finally reveal bitter rivalries and violent personality clashes in “kill and tell” exposes in the downmarket Sunday papers.

But Dave and Nick are different. Two completely different public school educated career politicians from totally opposite ends of the political spectrum – one just right of centre, the other just saved from being left behind. Whatever their previous differences, now they are together and the world is going to be a better and a very different place. Or a better and very similar place, or something.

Nobody expected a coalition. Plans were all based on one of the usual outcomes or no outcome. This is why the dustcovers have been drawn over official websites and a period of frantic airbrushing and reverse-engineering has set in.

Meanwhile, you can rely on NHS Networks for the unvarnished truth. Our election promise is the same as ever – to tell you the truth as we see it, and to keep telling you it until either you believe it too or you’re too worn out to argue.

That the policy has emerged quickly and appears coherent is a testament to the coalition’s curious ability to squeeze clarity out of compromise.

A document published yesterday gives us all a few clues to the direction of travel. Here are its main points:


  • Health spending will increase against a backdrop of cuts in other public services
  • GPs will have more power to commission services
  • More power for GPs is not unconditional – the GP contract is up for renegotiation
  • There will be no top-down reorganisation (but read the small print if you think that means no change)
  • Management costs will be cut by a third (see above)
  • Many quangos are for chop but the Care Quality Commission and Monitor are safe

There is plenty more along the same lines. Much as we’d prefer you to draw our conclusions you can continue to draw your own by reading this summary of the new government’s health policy.

Enjoy it while you can.