Politics: Lord Owen Backs Ed Miliband’s Party Reforms…Will it Save the NHS?

Lord Owen, the Social Democrat Party (SDP) leader, who left the Labour party in 1981 because of its resistance to reform has recently donated 7,500 pounds to Labour. The Labour leader Ed Miliband has received the backing of 86% of his party for his proposed leadership voting reforms, which have implications for Labour’s ability to fundraise and traditional trade union power. 

Lord Owen has seen this as a convenient time to award a donation to his old party saying that; “this is a bold and brave reform’ and ‘to help Labour reverse the 2012 NHS legislation…I have made a declarable contribution of over 7,500 Pounds to Labour funds.’  The former neurologist has been among the most ardent critics of the NHS legislation stating that ‘saving the NHS is my main political priority.’ 

It is clear then that Lord Owen thinks that NHS legislation is reversible in spite of the TTIP trade agreement between the EU and the USA. TTIP could potentially see NHS reforms stabilized on an international legal footing by potentially harmonising UK and US health systems and opening the door to private healthcare providers, essentially making NHS privatization permanent. Although the agreement is far from being signed, it is being protected from unofficial influence by what Lord Owen has called a ‘conspiracy of silence’. 

Yet it is unclear if the trade agreement is ratified, whether or not the NHS will be exempt. Labour’s health minister Andy Burnham has called for the NHS to be exempted from the agreement, while a precedent in the form of the Canadian-EU trade agreement saw health provision removed from the list of Investor rights. US companies have higher expectations, probably spurred on by David Cameron writing in the Wall Street Journal that ‘everything must be on the table’. 

Lord Owen seems sceptical about Britain’s ability to remain a member of the European Union and return to old NHS structuring. He has told the House of Lords that he would prefer to see an EU referendum in 2015, two years before the date that Cameron has proposed.



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max faulkner


  • I'm guessing MS research news is thin on the ground at the moment. My only interest is in research / trials which may make the lives of MS patients better in the future. I don't come to this blog to read political stuff – I can get that on the BBC website. Perhaps we should have a survey to ask if readers of this blog want to read non-MS rearch articles.

    • You are perfectly at liberty not to read the article if it doesn't float your boat but the changes being forced on the NHS will inevitably impact MSers. Some may find this of interest?

    • Yes, what is happening in the NHS is of interest.

      What I don't like, Anon 9:47, is 'MS patient' – far too passive and a reversion to the 'being done to' philosophy

    • "I could get it on the BBC."

      Where is the site where the BBC talked about the introduction of private prescribing from within the NHS, Likewise where was the media coverage on this subject? Pretty Silent.

      OK I may have missed it but some homework.

  • This is an MS research blog, not a place for posts about political issues. A large percentage of visitors to this blog are from outside the UK, so have little interest in our political system or the set up of our health service. Let's hear about the Charcot Projec, EBV research, B celld depleting therapies. Political posts will turn people away who just want to find out waht treatments are on the horizon.

    • If you want repurposed drugs say to treat progressive MS, if you want then quickly or maybe if they are to arrive at all, we may need to change the way the system works. This needs may be a political solution to change the system. if you you would incentise a company to do studies with old drugs such that they can recoup their costs you would probably alot more activity. ideas for ways to treat progressive MS are not short.

      Because the way the NHS worksand is funded this couldbe one place where this process is kicked started.

    • I´m not a UK citizen but I think what´s happening i UK is interesting and a bit frightening for all of us.. We need to be aware so that our health system doesn´t go the same way..
      Furthermore this blog is British and what happens has implications not only for the patients but also for the doctors and the researchers.

  • You don't have to read the posts. I am very interested in these posts about the NHS and how they may impact both my MS care and the care of my children, should they ever develop MS (God forbid). Please carry on with the updates. The NHS is insidioulsy being dismantled piece by piece and we need more articles like this to raise awareness. Thank you Team G.

  • Nah, baby, this blog is doing a grand thing by highlighting the political chicanery at play in this country. The kids running this blog are savvy to how Parliament is short-changing ill people through vexatious measures. They are educating you all and we ought to be thankful to them.

    The reason none of you are getting Lemtrada right now is nothing but political. If your MS blossoms into an irreversible progressive ailment in five years time then that will have purely been because of politics and nothing else. You are being denied life-saving treatments because health policy makers deem it too expensive. Last time I checked no-one with multiple sclerosis caused the financial crash, yet, however, they are the very ones being shafted because of others’ villainy. Disabled folk, single mothers, old people and sundry vulnerable persons are all being screwed for the incompetence of sociopathic rich men. Big changes are duplicitously being carried out on the NHS because we ostensibly cannot afford it any more, yet Gideon Oliver Osborne (our chancellor’s proper toff name) is about to cut the taxes for the richest in Britain by another 5%. That ain’t right, bruv.

    Oh, and to the readers complaining about this blog’s political focus ostracising international followers (presumably they mean Americans), I say that ain’t the case. I spend time in the States and know for a fact that much of the socioeconomic maelstrom affecting average families is not oftheir doing and those very people are extremely angry about things. To be poor in America is a tough experience, much worse than we in Britain envisage. To be then ill and poor in America is a depressing and deplorable actuality. Much of the anguish endured in America correlates to political misconduct. Heck, just read Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath to know how unforgiving unregulated American capitalism is for its citizens. If anything, this blog’s political discourses is to the benefit of everyone out there.

    Yo, Lexie, your claim that I “[speculate] on [your] background and [reduce] the argument to a personal level … suggesting [you] leave the country,” is unfair. I only said you may consider going abroad to acquire medicines not yet available in the UK. (Lexie, were you a big Suede fan at school? I have a feeling I sat behind you in English, hence why I speculate. It’s a small world, man.)

    • "You are being denied life-saving treatments because health policy makers deem it too expensive"

      Epiphany?MS drugs are useful! :-).

    • Ha! "Were you a big Suede fan … I sat behind you in English". You're a proper joker, Dre. I'm still laughing! 🙂

  • But a major theme of this blog is how policy impacts research and access to effective treatment. I've learned from this blog that it's an important part of interpreting the MS research and treatment landscape…even if I don't read every UK-specific posts carefully.

  • I have to agree with the anons who don't want political stories on the blog. These just act as a smokescreen so researchers can blame someone else for not finding out what this disease is about e.g. Autoimmune or not, b cell or t cell, virus or gut. Leave the politics to Jeremy Paxman. What I'd like is a chart showing over the next 18 months when we are likely to see announcements about the various trials which are underway e.g. Charcot project, ucl's various neuroprotective agents, b cell depleting therapies, ppms trials. I can get my politics reading from the guardian or the bbc website. E next election isn't until next May and no party will include a commitment in their manifesto to increase funding for ms research or repurposing drugs for ms. The only real advances will come when researchers come up with real answers (including answers to the question of repairing damage).

    • You're wrong. This blog is an all-round resource. I love its politicking because it demonstrates they are aware of changes and how that may impact on MS care.

      I love that these guys put their necks out, unafraid to ruffle feathers. They are unfettered and free of bias. I love Dr. Dre's thought provoking (and often very funny) debates which get me thinking about how things are. This blog is massively intelligent and unlike anything out there. This is an amazing place and its diversity is what makes it special.

      No broadsheet newspapers will distil the difficulties we MSers face like this blog does. They don't care. Research and politics go hand in hand.

    • If researchers are spending all their days and nights worying about which cut wiill come here or there and whether they can afford to do this or that has a huge impact on what you can do and which real answers you will get. if you have a lab of one hundred people, you should have more output than a lab or one. A lab I know in an ivy league college spent more on one experiment in a week that I had for a couple of years. They could have made it themselves in a couple of months but they chose to buy it in a week. How much your lab gets depends on the politics of the time. E.g. How much money went into mad cow disease considering it affected about a few hundred people so far, or did it? and thousands of MSers

  • For me ? If its MS relevant, keep the NHS political news coming, apathy is the enemy.
    "Leave it Colin, it aint worf it" will have us all sleepwalking to disaster.

    Regards as always.

  • I thought this blog was for most things relevant to MS. The politics have a huge impact on people with MS. As an inpatient and outpatient over 30 years, I have seen the priorities changed by successive governments. Whether one agrees or disagrees with what is posted on this blog, it is important to know how what the politicians are saying so that we can make informed choices when voting, blue, red, yellow, purple, green and any other colour.



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