07:08 Friday 7th September 2012
The Bigger Breakfast
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: Let’s talk politics. When we started our all-new Bigger Breakfast on Monday, he was the Health Secretary. By the end of the week, Cambridgeshire MP and one of the big beasts of government, Andrew Lansley, had been removed from his job. It became the big news of the week, with some saying he should have gone a long time ago, others saying he should have stayed to see his controversial health reforms through. So it was a reflective Andrew Lansley I caught up with yesterday, in his first full-length BBC Local Radio interview. (TAPE) Andrew, first of all it’s my first chance to talk to you since the Government reshuffle. Are you still disappointed, or were you ever disappointed to be taken out of Health?
ANDREW LANSLEY: Well I don’t think it’s any surprise to anybody that supporting and reforming and improving the NHS, improving the health of the nation through better public health, these were, for me, not transient political objectives, but personal passions and commitments. But I think it’s fair to say, and I completely understood, that in a government, and indeed for that matter in a political party, one person cannot as it were monopolise such a major part of the Government and a party’s agenda for ever. Being the Conservative Party’s Health Spokesman since November 2003, so that’s coming on nine years. And for me to carry on would run the risk that effectively the Conservative Party had nobody else who had really had anything like that degree of experience and knowledge. So the Prime Minister and I had a very good conversation, and I think we were clear, and I was clear, that the things that we set out to do, improving the health service, delivering efficiency savings, and reforming, were all established, and very much on track.
PAUL STAINTON: But they’ve not been implemented, have they? And the flip-side of your argument is that you are the one with all the experience. You are the one with years in Opposition, and in Government. You are the one that’s driven these plans to the point of implementation, then to be taken away from it.
ANDREW LANSLEY: Yes. I completely understand that. But part of what I’ve achieved, I hope, is getting in place the people and the organisations that are going to do this. During the course of two years we’ve actually been putting the whole transition forward. And Cambridgehsire is a good example. There is a Health and Wellbeing Board in Cambridgeshire, with the County Council, with the NHS organisation, that is effectively stepping up to take its responsibilities from next April. That will happen. We have a Clinical Commissioning Group established for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that’s brought GPs and nurses and hospital clinicians together. They’re effectively doing it already.
PAUL STAINTON: Nevertheless, some people Andrew are flabbergasted that you’ve been taken out of this. We spoke to Dr Richard Taylor yesterday, former MP and hospital doctor. Have a listen to what he had to say.
DR RICHARD TAYLOR: I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard the news yesterday. Because really to move Andrew Lansley, the architect of these changes, whether they’re right or wrong, he’s about the only chap who really understands the detail.
PAUL STAINTON: Flabbergasted was his words. What did David Cameron actually say to you Andrew?
ANDREW LANSLEY: Well it was all part of the process of what you now have seen, very wide-scale changes across the Government in order to bring about a focus on people doing jobs, the right jobs, and so on.
PAUL STAINTON: Well that’s the point though. Did you want to go?
ANDREW LANSLEY: I didn’t want to go. But I completely understood that from my point of view, and it is from the Prime Minister’s point of view, there is a risk that if you simply have somebody who is focused on one subject and nothing else, the rest of the Party and the rest of the Government doesn’t have an opportunity really to bring its own expertise to bear on that.
PAUL STAINTON: One correspondent to the Show yesterday qualified it like this, and said putting Jeremy Hunt in at Health is like getting a plumber to be an electrician. It could blow the house up.
ANDREW LANSLEY: No, I don’t think that, not least because Jeremy and I have talked often, and he’s always been immensely supportive. And indeed the Conservative Party and the Coalition has been immensely supportive of all I’ve done. The one thing I would say, if you were to say to me, what am I (proud of), I’m proud of many things I’ve done at the Department of Health. One of them is that I actually think not only have we delivered savings and made the service more efficient and reinvested those for improvement, there is a part of reform which I hope for decades ahead will give the NHS a real sense of its ability to bring leaders to the forefront, and to put patients at the heart of what they do.
PAUL STAINTON: Moving on then, you’re Leader of the House of Commons now. And you’ve got another big job on your hands, reform. How big a reformer are you, Andrew?
ANDREW LANSLEY: Well I’m a reformer by nature. But reform is never change for its own sake. Parliament is an essential and a precious institution. And my job as Leader of the House of Commons is not only to be the Government’s representative as it were to Parliament, but also Parliament’s , the House of Commons’ representative inside Government. So I want to be a Leader for the House of Commons, not just the Leader of the House. And I want to really put the House of Commons back to the forefront of public debate. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Andrew Lansley, talking to me yesterday, former Health Secretary.