Moves to overhaul the National Health Service have suffered a double setback ahead of the return of the controversial plans to Parliament.

Yesterday, a cross-party group of peers called for fresh changes to the Health and Social Care Bill and the British Medical Association called for the Bill to be scrapped as it announced a new campaign of opposition.

The Lords Constitution Committee warned that the reforms fail to enshrine in law the Health Secretary's ultimate responsibility for the NHS.

Critics have warned that, as drafted, the Bill could allow Andrew Lansley, the incumbent, or his successors to claim that they do not have the power to intervene and keep hospitals open. The committee said: "We are concerned that the Bill, if enacted in its current form, may risk diluting the Government's constitutional responsibilities with regard to the NHS."