Andrew Lansley will be forced to carry the can if his health reforms fail, it emerged yesterday.
The Future Forum report, ordered by David Cameron to avert a political row over his stewardship of the NHS, will recommend restoring the duty on the Health Secretary to "provide a comprehensive health service" which Mr Lansley had proposed delegating to a new quango, the NHS Commissioning Board. Critics had demanded greater accountability, with the minister remaining ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the NHS.
Tomorrow, Professor Steve Field, the Future Forum chairman, will publish his report on the axing of primary care trusts, with the Government expected to accept all of his recommendations on Tuesday.
The battle is now on to claim credit for the changes. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will tell a special meeting of MPs and peers tomorrow night that he has "won" all 13 concessions demanded by the Lib Dems. But one Tory MP said: "If the snivelling Lib Dems think they are going to take all the applause on this, they can think again." Writing in The Independent on Sunday, John Healey, the shadow Health Secretary, claimed that even with the substantial changes to the Bill, Mr Cameron's aim remains to turn "the NHS into a full-scale market, modelled on the privatised utilities and driven by the force of competition law".
Despite reports, Mr Lansley was ready to resign after the mauling his Health and Social Bill suffered, but it is understood he will remain to see his plans put into action.