Reports Government will veto release of NHS transition risk register – Clegg challenged to stand up for public’s right to know

John Healey MP has reacted to reports that the Cabinet may decide today to veto a ruling that it should publish its assessment of the risk of its big NHS reorganisation.

The former Shadow Health Secretary, who first asked for release of the NHS transition risk relating to the then Health and Social Care Bill in November 2010, said:

“If true, this is a desperate act which will backfire badly. It is incompetent and incredible.

“It is plain incompetent for Cameron to try to wield the political veto two weeks after the legal deadline has come and gone. People will suspect Minsters of burying this bad news on the eve of the Queens Speech. It adds to the aura of political panic, and will only fuel doubt and distrust about the Government’s NHS plans.

“There must be some very big risks in the Government’s NHS reorganisation for Ministers to override the law with their political veto.

“It is incredible that the Government has now lost twice in law yet still refuses to recognise the public and more than a million NHS staff have the right to know the risks Ministers are running with our NHS and the right to reassurance that everything possible is being done to reduce them.

“It is a huge error of judgement. The Prime Minister is giving the NHS the same status as the Iraq War, too sensitive to tell people the truth about his plans. This is also a big political mistake because from now until the Election, every time anything goes wrong in the NHS people will demand to know: ‘Were ministers warned about this problem? And what did they do to avoid it?’”

Mr Healey issued a challenge to the Deputy Prime Minister: “Is he going to allow the Tories to ride roughshod over the Liberal Democrats commitment to FOI and support for the risk register to be published? Or are he and his Lib Dem Cabinet colleagues going to stand up for the public’s right to information about our NHS? Or are they simply powerless and subject to the Tories imposing their will?”

Guardian: Cabinet in confusion over NHS risk register publication