Clegg to Lansley: Change NHS reforms or lose our support

Deputy PM sets out five 'non-negotiable' demands to ward off threat of privatisation

Nick Clegg issued a stark warning yesterday that the Liberal Democrats will not back Andrew Lansley's controversial health shake-up without "substantial changes" to stamp out the threat of NHS privatisation.

Click HERE to upload graphic (52k jpg)

In the clearest sign yet of a major coalition schism over the reforms, Mr Clegg set out five key demands which he insists are "non-negotiable". They include blocking attempts by big business to "cherry-pick" services, giving doctors and nurses a greater say in contracting care, and delaying the handover of £60bn of health spending to groups of GPs beyond the planned 2013 deadline.

With the Lib Dems' poll ratings dropping three points to 10 per cent in the latest Independent on Sunday/ComRes survey, Mr Clegg needs to prove his party is able to influence coalition policy ahead of elections on 5 May. The poll also reveals 41 per cent of people believe the Lib Dems should leave the coalition if they fail to secure changes on the health reforms.

The Deputy Prime Minister wrote to all 56 Lib Dem MPs in an attempt to counter claims that the Government's decision to "pause" the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill was simply a PR stunt.

In the letter, Mr Clegg stresses: "There will never be privatisation of the health service on our watch." He said the Lib Dems "must remain supporters of the need for reform of the NHS", including more involvement of local people in how services are run. "We are seeking evolution not revolution... but I also... should be clear about some of the areas that I think are non-negotiable during the Government's listening exercise."

Mr Clegg's letter sets out five red lines: competition should be driven by quality, not price; family doctors should not commission services alone; GP consortia must not go ahead in 2013 if they are not ready; the principles of the NHS constitution must be protected; and GPs must work "hand in glove" with councils. At the Lib Dem conference last month, delegates demanded 23 changes.

Mr Lansley apologised last week for failing to communicate his radical overhaul of the way care is provided after the Royal College of Nurses passed a vote of no confidence in him. Alan Johnson, Labour's former health secretary, uses an article in the IoS today to launch an attack on Mr Lansley, claiming the Health Secretary is "a technocrat... smug in his self-belief, hawking a half-baked blueprint".

The 141 Primary Care Trusts in England are to be abolished, with the role of contracting health services handed to GP consortia. But concerns have been raised by health professionals and patient groups, as well as the Lib Dems who fear decisions will be taken behind closed doors. Lib Dem MP Andrew George, a member of the Health Select Committee, demanded Mr Lansley "bin his reforms".

Tension is also mounting about who is in charge of rescuing the policy. In particular, there is unease among Tory MPs about the efforts of Craig Oliver and Andrew Cooper, who arrived in No 10 last month to head communications and strategy. "This was supposed to be the big fightback test for the whizz kids, but so far they seem to have made things worse," said one senior backbencher.

On Tuesday, Mr Lansley will be joined by David Cameron at the latest listening exercise in Downing Street. Hospital chiefs are expected to raise concerns that as many as 22 trusts are crippled by multimillion-pound private finance deals which could prevent them becoming foundation trusts as planned by 2014. On Wednesday, the NHS Future Forum is due to begin drawing up a report proposing substantial changes to the Health and Social Care Bill. However, there have been complaints that no public health expert is included on the panel.

Meanwhile, Labour claimed the "pause" ordered on the progress of the Bill was a "complete sham" after leaked emails revealed long-planned public events were being "rebadged as listening exercises". John Healey, Labour's health spokesman, said: "David Cameron hasn't been straight on the NHS from the start. He didn't tell people his plans before the election, and won't talk now about the far-reaching changes that will turn the health service into a free market."

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing