Andrew Lansley doing a good job, says David Cameron

 

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is doing "a very good" job and understands the NHS better than most, David Cameron said today in defence of the under-fire Cabinet minister.

Mr Lansley clashed publicly with a vocal opponent of his health service reforms yesterday as he entered Downing Street for a summit to discuss the controversial changes.

The Prime Minister backed his colleague today, despite an opinion poll showing a majority of voters were in favour of ditching the legislation altogether.

Asked if he would sack the architect of the reforms, said at a Downing Street press conference following talks with Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy: "I think Andrew Lansley is doing a very good job.

"I have worked with him for many, many years and I think he understands the health service better than almost anyone else in Parliament and does a very good job and he has my support."

Mr Cameron said reform "always involves argument" but he was confident the Government could win the arguments and show the changes would improve the NHS.

Mr Cameron said reform was "never easy" but it was "vital" the plans were put in place.

"I think it is important we stand back for a moment and try to explain again to people what it is we are attempting to do because I think the principle behind the reforms does actually have quite good support," he added.

"For years, people have said there is too much bureaucratic decision-making in the NHS, we want clinical decision making. That's what the reforms deliver."

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove denied being one of the three Cabinet ministers reported to have expressed their concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill to the website ConservativeHome.

Mr Gove told a Westminster lunch he was "absolutely" in favour of the reforms contained in the Bill and praised Mr Lansley for being "brave and right and principled in pressing ahead with it".

"I do not think - and I have not said to anyone - that we should drop the Bill," said Mr Gove.

Latest opinion polling suggests the row over the Bill may be damaging the coalition.

More than two-thirds of people do not trust the Government's handling of the NHS, according to a survey commissioned by BBC 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

Just 18% of adults surveyed in England think Mr Lansley is doing a good job as Health Secretary.

An ICM poll for The Guardian found that 52% believed the Health and Social Care Bill should be dropped, against 33% who said the Government should press ahead with the legislation.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the reforms earlier, insisting the Bill had been changed "very considerably" since a pause in the progress of the legislation through Parliament last year.

"I am a Liberal Democrat and I care passionately about the NHS. If I felt that this legislation would lead to the privatisation of the NHS, as the critics claim, if I felt that this legislation would lead to the ruin of the NHS, of course we would drop it," he told ITV's Daybreak.

"The truth is that at the heart of this legislation is a very simple straightforward idea and it is this: it is to give people who know patients the best - doctors, nurses and clinicians - more say about what happens to those patients and how the NHS is run.

"I think that basic, simple idea is a good one."

Despite amassing 154,146 signatures, a petition calling for the Bill to be dropped altogether cannot be debated by the Commons at present after no MP took up the case this afternoon.

Any e-petition on the Government's official website which reaches six-figure support is eligible to be put to the Backbench Business Committee as a potential topic for parliamentary time.

At the committee's weekly meeting this afternoon it was not proposed by any MP, meaning it cannot yet be considered.

Asked whether the Government remained open to amending the legislation, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I would not envisage significant changes to the Health Bill.

"Clearly, it is being debated still in the House of Lords and I would not want to prejudge those discussions.

"But we had a listening exercise, we took account of the views and we amended the legislation."

:: ICM Research interviewed 1,013 adults aged 18 and over by telephone between February 17 and 19. ComRes conducted its survey of 1,005 adults across England between February 17 and 19 2012.

Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds has submitted a written bid for a debate on the petition to the committee, a spokesman said.

But he will be expected to attend in person at next week's session and faces a tough battle to secure any time.

There are a limited number of slots available and the fact that the legislation is being debated by Parliament at present will be considred as a factor.

PA

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game