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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Politicians should be listening

Some good news, some not so good news on the health front for Cumbria this week.

Firstly, it is fantastic news to hear that plans for the new West Cumberland Hospital have been given the go-ahead FINALLY!

But it is ridiculous for John Ashton, Cumbria’s public health director, to be disciplined for voicing opposition to the Government’s NHS reforms.

He has been accused of breaking his code of conduct as a medical officer by raising concerns over the radical changes.

In an interview with the News & Star, Professor Ashton said it was his professional opinion that the reforms would cause irreversible long-term damage to the health service.

Now a message is believed to have been sent down from embattled Health Secretary Andrew Lansley warning him that it is “inappropriate” to state these views.

How voicing his concerns can cause problems for a project that has been fiercely criticised by just about every branch of health care in the country is anyone’s guess.

Surely we need highly-paid people in high places like Prof Ashton to ask questions and to have their own insight into issues. Or does the Government prefer the nodding dog approach?

Politics and dogma shouldn’t be a part of how this nation runs its health, education or rights for the elderly and infirm – including pensions. For too long, too much money has been wasted on chopping and changing foolish policies, methods of practice and means of measuring efficiency and effectiveness.

There should be all-party collaboration to establish a framework and a set of ideals that each successive Government should abide by and work towards, rather than rip up, redesign and spend ill-afforded time and money trying to introduce.

Instead of shouty, short-trousered yah-boo politics, why can’t we have some considered debate, a bit of compromise and a trustworthy structure to those areas in our lives that we depend on most and which cause us most anxiety? And if anyone employed in these schemes dares to speak against them, the Government should listen without prejudice instead of threaten.

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