Government 'took NHS reform concerns on board'
The Government insisted today it had listened to concerns about the scale and speed of its radical shake-up of the NHS.
Unions, thinktanks and health campaigners have expressed doubts about the reforms, which will see primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) abolished.
GPs will take hold of the purse strings from 2013, planning hospital care and services for patients.
Some 52 "GP consortia" have already signed up to manage their local NHS budgets, covering a quarter of the population.
But opponents have insisted the reforms are too speedy and could damage patient care.
Unite said today Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was driving the NHS into "the buffers" by moving too fast and without proper consultation.
The union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said the plans were heading "in the wrong direction" and had been "cobbled together".
Later today, the Government will outline its priorities for the NHS in the coming year as part of the NHS operating framework.
Mr Lansley announced that part of it would include hospitals being "held to account" and fined if they fail to get rid of mixed sex wards.
In its response to the consultation on its white paper, the Government said it had listened to concerns about the structural overhaul of the NHS.
It has made some amendments, including placing commissioning of maternity services with GPs instead of with a National Commissioning Board.
It has also pledged to "allow a longer and more phased transition period" for completing some of the reforms, such as keeping the regulator Monitor on board for some control of foundation trusts.
It has also promised to "create a clearer, more phased approach to the introduction of GP commissioning" through the pathfinder pilots.
"This will allow those groups of GP practices that are ready, to start exploring the issues and will enable learning to be spread more rapidly," it said.
The document said the Government will "increase transparency in commissioning by requiring all GP consortia to have a published constitution."
Ministers have also recognised "that our original proposal to merge local authorities' scrutiny functions into the health and wellbeing board was flawed.
"Instead we will extend councils' formal scrutiny powers to cover all NHS-funded services, and will give local authorities greater freedom in how these are exercised."
The document said the Government had listened but "disagrees" with concerns from groups including the think tank the King's Fund, the Royal College of Nursing and Arthritis Care that the scale of the reforms are too big, untested or are occurring at the wrong time.
Also today, PCTs were told they will receive a total of £89 billion next year to fund services.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Salary Package - £60K to £120K: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting op...
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer - Urgent Requirem...
£70000 - £95000 per annum + Bonus, flexible working hours, remote work: Progre...
£50000 - £56000 per annum + Benefits package, flexible working hours: Progress...