I don't always agree with Will Hutton. This morning I do. Writing in the Observer his article is entitled:
The NHS is loved and efficient, so why the obsession with reform?
Will and I obviously share something in common. Over the last six months he has seen more of chemotherapy suites than he would ever have wished to. Over the last year so did I. The cancers our family members have had to deal with are different and I now know that the prognosis for my family member is very good, but the stresses are probably not that dissimilar, and the admiration for the NHS and those who staff it are the same. I hope his family member's treatment is as successful as mine has been.
What this reinforces is what I have written this morning, which is that the state can be an extraordinarily efficient supplier of services. In the case of the NHS it has been. It has been a world beater. But I write, with care, in the past tense. As a minister has admitted today, as a result of this government's reforms it has already lost control of the NHS. In that case there is, as such, no NHS left. There is just an unaccountable use of public funds that cannot in any way be guaranteed to deliver the care that is needed in a consistent, reliable or acceptable way.
Anyone could find themselves stricken with leukaemia, even health secretaries and report writers. Their chance of a successful cure will depend on the rest of us resisting the "reforms" they so ardently advocate. We can own and we can pay for a great health system. It just takes the collective will.