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."

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape