As suggested by Lord Rennard in his comment to the Baroness Jolly piece on Lib Dem Voice yesterday I went through every amendment to the Health & Social Care Bill yesterday. I have a huge amount of respect for Chris and so I felt it was important I did so.
There was one change I hadn't properly recognised - I think it may have been changed on Monday night, maybe I just kept missing it. Ironically it's one of the earliest amendments. It does now seem clear to me that the total and final responsibility for Public Health and the NHS does now lie once again with the Secretary of State. There was wiggle room before. So one of my detailed concerns with the bill has been allayed.
However one of my other concerns still remain. I still cannot find a detailed and explicit clause where CCGs are mandated to put quality above price. I have seen reference that price cannot be put before quality - but that is different, it implies equality of these two factors, not superiority of one over the other.
I would be happy to be wrong about this. I may just be missing it - there is a lot to get through and cross referencing amendments with the bill gets complicated. Indeed the BBC news also explicitly stated that quality has primacy over price in the Act.
So if anyone can point me to the exact point where this is written into law I will be obliged and feel better.
My main objections to this bill remain. The electorate were told no massive reorganisation of the NHS - they have got the opposite. The professional bodies representing medical staff in the NHS predict chaos. I fear the cost savings predicted will not materialise and patient outcomes will suffer.
But I am happy to acknowledge there are good things in the bill. I am not a 'no reform under any circumstances' merchant - our manifesto called for reform (though not these ones). And if anyone can show me that quality of service over price is written in stone than I will be a (slightly) happier man.
As you can see below, Lord Rennard has taken up the challenge, and answered my question in full. I doff my cap in his direction. That IS what I call service!