Andrew Lansley heckled before NHS summit

 

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was confronted by angry protesters who accused him of trying to privatise the NHS as he arrived at Downing Street to meet healthcare professionals.

One, former trade union rep June Hautot, 75, blocked his path and jabbed her finger at him as she accused him of privatising the NHS and causing longer waits for treatment.

The under-pressure cabinet minister dismissed her claims however, telling reporters after battling through the protest that they were based on a "complete misrepresentation" of the Bill.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted he was "committed" to pushing through NHS reforms as he came under fire for excluding critics of the legislation from the Downing Street summit.

Mr Cameron accused opponents of peddling "myths" about the impact of the changes as he hailed "constructive and helpful" talks with some of those implementing the changes.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the gathering - to which a string of high-profile professional bodies were not invited - exposed a "bunker mentality" by ministers.

He renewed demands for the Health and Social Care Bill, currently enduring a stormy passage through Parliament, to be dropped altogether and fresh reforms drawn up with professionals.

Insisting he would not be blown off course by the opposition to the reforms, Mr Cameron said: "I am committed to the changes and committed to taking them through.

"We need to do everything we can to explain to people that this is about improving and enhancing our NHS, not in any way endangering it."

"Reform is never easy, but it is vital to reform our NHS because I want it to be there looking after every family in the country and doing a good job into the future.

"We had a constructive and helpful meeting and what's clear is that there are quite a few myths that we need to bust about this reform."

The round-table discussion was designed to allow Mr Cameron and Mr Lansley to talk with chairs of the emerging GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which are intended to give family doctors more power to help their patients choose where and when they receive treatment.

But it became a focus of anger after it emerged critics of the Bill were not invited, including four Royal Colleges: those representing GPs, Pathologists, Radiologists and Psychiatrists.

Health unions not asked to attend included the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the British Medical Association (BMA), Unite and Unison.

Royal College of GPs chair Dr Clare Gerada said ministers appeared to be "shooting the messenger" and the RCN said it was "extraordinary" not to have included critics.

Downing Street denied anyone had been excluded - saying the summit was set up to hear from "people who are implementing the reforms about how the process is going".

It said commissioning groups had described "dramatic improvements on the previous system" in the talks, also attended by leading surgeon and former Labour Health Minister, Lord Darzi.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that today's event was one of a series of meetings, but was unable to say whether the PM planned to meet critics of the Bill such as the BMA.

Mr Miliband accused Mr Cameron of playing "a dangerous game of divide and rule" as the scale of opposition to the Bill became clear.

During a visit to Homerton Hospital in east London, Mr Miliband said: "This bunker mentality is the wrong way to run the NHS.

"And I want to say something directly to David Cameron today - it's not too late to start listening to the doctors, the nurses and the midwives. It's not too late to listen to patients."

If passed in its present form, the Bill "will cause lasting damage to the NHS, it will divert billions from patient care and undermine our health service's basic principles", he said.

"David Cameron should drop his Bill and get round the table with everyone who cares about the future of the NHS, including those who work in the health service and other political parties."

Mr Cameron was forced to reaffirm his support for the Bill last weekend after reports that three Tory Cabinet ministers opposed the Bill and an influential grassroots website urged him to drop it.

More than 150,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for the Bill to be scrapped.

After the talks, Mr Lansley brushed off the heckling as "sticks and stones" and said the line-up for the meeting had been deliberately chosen to ensure a "constructive" approach.

In a pointed barb at some of the organisations not invited, he said: "My door is always open to the BMA, the Royal Colleges. Any time they want a constructive discussion about how we can deliver better services for patients I'm absolutely there for them.

"Some of the chief executives of some national organisations who get a lot of opportunity to sit and talk to the Prime Minister weren't there but that's because we wanted a constructive discussion which actually gave the Prime Minister the opportunity to meet people who he hadn't previously, in many cases, met in order to discuss some of these issues."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all