At last year’s Commissioning Show, Health Secretary Andew Lansley delivered a speech which had GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals up in arms with questions about how the reforms would actually work. They were angry, frustrated and confused with what Lansley was doing to their precious NHS. And Lansley didn’t appear to be much happier as he spoke with a self-deprecating tone and a slightly apologetic look.
One year on and Lansley’s speech to the Commissioning Show yesterday (£) has barely received any coverage. From many speculating when he would be put to one side, and who would replace him, Lansley has now moved quietly into the background to get on with implementing his reforms.
Personally, I don’t think Cameron will get rid of Lansley. I think Cameron doesn’t like appearing weak, is fairly loyal (whether for political or personal reasons) and realises that there isn’t a clear replacement for Lansley (who else really understands his reforms?). While Stephen Dorrell’s name has cropped up a lot, he has spent a fair amount of time expressing concerns over the reforms so it could be slightly awkward for Cameron to have him suddenly defending the reforms. Also, there is the minor question of whether Dorrell would even want the job. Now is a crucial time for the reforms; to ensure that they are implemented at the same time as trying to achieve the huge efficiency savings, which have been called ‘undoable’.
Another name that came up when discussing changes to the Health team was Mark Harper. While he wasn’t tipped for the top job, it was hinted he might join the team. Some have wondered whether he was kept away from the DH so he could remain unblemished. However, with the new responsibility of getting the difficult Lords reforms through the Commons, he will have a tough job trying to remain unscathed. If he does, he will definitely be one to watch for the future.
Rumours are still floating around that there will be a post-Olympics reshuffle. Jeremy Hunt, another name that had been thrown into the ‘Health Secretary’ pot, has obviously been a bit battered recently, and not a month seems to go by that someone doesn’t write about the imminent return of David Laws.
While I might be regretting placing a bet two years ago on Jeremy Hunt being the next Conservative leader, I’m still not tempted by the odds on Lansley leaving his position within the next twelve months.