Sunday News Review

Action continues in Libya

George Osborne this morning refused to rule out putting ground troops in Libya. The Chancellor told the Andrew Marr show that the UK are “not considering ground forces at the moment” and were committed to enforcing the UN resolution. Britain’s armed forces and their international partners last night attacked “key military installations” in Libya in a co-ordinated strike, Liam Fox said in a statement. French, American and British forces went into action after a UN resolution backed a no-fly zone over the country to protect civilians. – Politics Home

Balls: Budget plans damp squib

The Government has boasted of a “big bang” Budget plan for growth. But what we have seen so far – tinkering with planning laws, reheating failed policies like enterprise zones and rowing back on workers’ rights – looks like a damp squib. We need to rebuild the strength and competitiveness of our banking and financial sector, but on the basis of business models that reward investment and sustainable growth, not short-term risk-taking. We need a modern industrial policy that supports incentives for technological, green and scientific innovation to flourish, starting with boosting R&D tax credits for small companies. And with too many employers ducking the need to invest in skills, we must ensure every company takes their responsibilities seriously and every employee gets the chance. I don’t claim Labour has all the answers right now – but it is worrying that Mr Osborne shows no sign of even understanding the questions. – Ed Balls, the Independent

Lansley hides NHS poll

Ministers have been accused of “burying good news” about the NHSbecause it will undermine their case for sweeping reforms, after it emerged that they are withholding unpublished polling data that shows record levels of satisfaction with healthcare. The Observer has learned that the polling organisation Ipsos MORI submitted the results last autumn to the Department of Health for inclusion in a government survey of public perceptions of the NHS. The data, commissioned by the department, shows that more members of the public than ever believe the NHS is doing a good job – a finding contrary to health secretary Andrew Lansley‘s insistence that it is falling short and needs urgent change. The department has had the findings for six months, but has yet to make them public – the most recent information on its website relates to 2007. The decision to “sit on” the positive information has fuelled a row over the way in which the government is rooting out negative statistics about the NHS to justify reforms. Under the plans – rejected by the Liberal Democrats at their spring conference last weekend and opposed by a small band of Tory MPs, as well as by the Labour party – GPs will be handed control of £80bn of the NHS budget, tiers of management will be swept away and the private sector will play a greater role. – the Observer

Cameron’s NHS plans are dangerous, says Tory MP

Is there something of the Trojan Horse about the Health and Social Care Bill? No top down reorganisation of the NHS promised on the outside but perhaps the greatest upheaval in the organisation’s history inside. At Prime Ministers Questions last week David Cameron said: ‘We are not reorganising the bureaucracy of the NHS, we are abolishing the bureaucracy of the NHS.’ That is part of the problem. It is one thing to rapidly dismantle the entire middle layer of NHS management but it is completely unrealistic to assume that this vast organisation can be managed by a commissioning board in London with nothing in between it and several hundred inexperienced commissioning consortia. In reality the reforms manage to be both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom up’ but we could end up with the worst of both worlds. Stripping out primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities is as top down as it comes. But at a recent hearing of the Health Select Committee we heard of the confusion that still exists about their replacement. – Dr Sarah Woolaston, the Telegraph

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