Lansley to stand and fight for his NHS reforms

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Indy Politics

Andrew Lansley returns to the political front line tomorrow to fight for his controversial proposals to overhaul the health service.

The Health Secretary will insist that the reform is essential to avert a financial crisis caused by the soaring cost of medicines and an ageing population.

His plan to hand responsibility for £60bn of NHS spending to GP consortiums is set to be substantially redrawn by David Cameron in the face of protests from medical professionals and Liberal Democrat ministers.

The Prime Minister is likely to give a hint of his conclusions in a speech this week, although the revised version of the health reforms may not be disclosed until mid-June.

Mr Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill was held up in April to enable a "listening exercise", which ended last week, to take place.

He is battling to ensure the fundamental principles of his plans are maintained amid suggestions he could quit the Cabinet if he believes his original vision has been discarded.

He won a boost yesterday when a survey of Tory members by the ConservativeHome website found 72 per cent supported his proposals.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has indicated that legal protections for adults in care are to be speeded up following the abuse scandal at a residential hospital in Bristol.

Plans for a system of "safeguarding" boards – bringing together social services with the local NHS and police officers and similar to those in place for children in care – are to be published within a fortnight.

They were already in the pipeline but the shocking BBC Panorama film showing people with learning difficulties being punched, slapped and taunted by carers at Winterbourne View hospital has accelerated the moves.

The Health minister, Paul Burstow told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend that he did not believe Dame Jo Williams, chairwoman of the care home regulator, the Care Quality Commission, should resign. He also criticised the "very odd business model" of Southern Cross, the owner of 750 care homes which has been plunged into financial difficulties.