MP claims NHS reform “cover-up”

MP for Easington Grahame Morris
MP for Easington Grahame Morris

CONTROVERSIAL documents relating to alleged risks coalition Government reforms could have on the NHS are being withheld in the “biggest cover-up in a generation”, claims Easington MP Grahame Morris.

Labour MP Mr Morris has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley calling for the immediate publication of a “risk register”, documents he claims show “the true extent of the NHS of coalition reforms”.

He says the papers are being withheld by the minister even after a ruling by the Information Commissioner for the document to be published.

Mr Lansley is appealing the commissioner’s decision.

It is believed the document contains details of some of the “potentially disastrous” consequences of Lansley’s reforms including increasing waiting times and rising costs.

Mr Morris, who is a member of the Commons’ Health Select Committee, said: “Reform of the NHS is a matter of the most serious consequence.

“If the Health Secretary is suppressing a report that shows his reforms could put patients at risk and worsen the functioning of the NHS, he would be guilty of the biggest political cover-up in a generation.”

Mr Morris, who last week tabled an Early Day Motion calling for the document to be publicised, which has attracted support from 75 MPs including 13 Liberal Democrats, writes: “The debate surrounding the future of the NHS should, at a minimum, be had in an open and transparent manner that should include the publication of the strategic risk register.”

Labour is planning to hold a debate on the publication of the risk register in the Commons later this month as part of its “three months to save the NHS” campaign.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Risk registers are departmental management tools that play a key role in the formation of Government policy.

“We believe that their publication would risk seriously damaging the quality of advice given to ministers and of any subsequent decision making.”