David Cameron will today signal his determination to press ahead with his health reforms as he stages a Downing Street summit from which critics of the plans have been excluded.
The Prime Minister, who has taken personal charge of implementing the overhaul, will make clear he believes the preparations for the changes are too advanced to be halted and patients can already see improvements.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has faced renewed calls to scrap the Health and Social Care Bill from organisations representing doctors and nurses – as well as intense speculation he could be reshuffled out of his job. Liberal Democrat critics will try to raise the issue in an emergency motion to their spring conference next month and disquiet over the reforms has surfaced around the Cabinet table.
Last night Government sources said this afternoon's session was designed to examine in detail how the reforms could be rolled out rather to discuss amending or abandoning them.
Downing Street said the guest list was a "range of national healthcare organisations and clinical commissioning groups", thought to include the NHS Confederation and family doctors who support the shake-up. However, the British Medical Association, Royal Colleges representing GPs, nursing and midwives, and health unions said they had not been invited.
Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, said: "People have strong and sincerely-held views about the risks to the NHS from the Government's reorganisation. They deserve a hearing – not to have the door of Downing Street shut in their faces."Reuse content