There has been much talk of the so called "risk register" in the last few weeks. This concerns the Health and Social care Bill that is currently before Parliament, and which seeks to ensure that the NHS continues to provide a world class service.
I am not sure why Labour are seeking to make political capital over this. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham refused a similar request for the Department of Health risk register when he was Secretary of State in 2009. So it looks like opportunism to me.
Today I spoke in a debate on the NHS and the release of the risk register and you can see the points I made to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and former Labour Health Secretary Alan Johnson below.
I am proud of what this Government have been doing for the NHS. Indeed, we can see what happens when we protect NHS spending and when we have a cancer drugs fund. We do not need a risk register to see the difference that that makes; we can just look at Wales, where waiting times are rising and cancer patients are being denied access to life-saving drugs and having to wait longer. That is the benefit of the Conservative policies in England.
My hon. Friend is safely in Dover, a long way from Wales, when he says these things, but I go to Wales and he is absolutely right. It is staggering. The right hon. Member for Leigh and his colleagues can stand there and say, "Oh, well, you know, it's only"—what is it?—"8% of patients who are not being seen within 18 weeks." In Wales it is 32% of patients who are not being seen
On 31 July 2008 and on 17 September 2008, the right hon. Gentleman decided not to release risk registers or risk assessments. Why was he right then and the Secretary of State wrong now?
I see that the Whips' brief dragged up something I did in a previous life. The risk register is, with respect, a second-order issue. I cannot understand why the Health Secretary does not publish it. He is in enough trouble already, and the Government are in enough trouble already without adding an issue of transparency that simply makes the situation worse.
So there we have it – a "second order issue". In other words opportunism and scaremongering of the worst possible type.
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