The Government escaped a rebellion by the medical establishment after the Royal College of Surgeons refused to back a statement condemning its health reforms.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents 20 royal colleges, had been preparing to release a statement saying it could not support the health Bill in its current form, but changed its mind after losing the backing of the RCS and last-minute appeals by ministers.

The statement, discussed at a meeting of the academy on Thursday night, said instead that there had been a "useful exchange of information and an agreement to continue the dialogue".

It is believed the surgeons and a number of other colleges had doubts about taking such a political stance because of their charitable status.