Ministers 'ring alarm bells on NHS reforms'

 

Andrew Lansley tonight brushed off suggestions that he should sacrifice himself to ensure the survival of the coalition's controversial NHS reforms.

The Health Secretary hit back following reports of criticism from Tory Cabinet colleagues over his handling of the shake-up.

Asked if it was time he resigned in order to save the changes, Mr Lansley told journalists: "No, it is not. Because actually we as a government have committed to supporting the NHS.

"This legislation has been supported by the House of Commons, by the House of Lords."

Commenting after delivering a speech in Edinburgh, Mr Lansley went on: "It is not about the Bill as such, it is about what the Bill enables the NHS to achieve in the future.

"That is not about me, that is about us as a government."

He added: "It is because the NHS matters so much, because we believe in the values of the NHS, we have to be prepared to reform."

The latest wave of speculation over Mr Lansley's future was sparked when Tory grassroots site ConservativeHome claimed three Cabinet ministers had privately "rung the alarm bell" about the shake-up.

One apparently called for the health secretary to be replaced, another said the Bill should be dropped, and the third likened the NHS reforms to the poll tax.

Editor Tim Montgomerie wrote: "David Cameron's greatest political achievement as leader of the opposition was to neutralise health as an issue.

"The greatest mistake of his time as Prime Minister has been to put it back at the centre of political debate."

Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi and health minister Simon Burns were quickly mobilised to try to shore up Mr Lansley's position.

Mr Burns told BBC News: "To be quite frank, they are all unnamed - I regard it as tittle-tattle.

"From what I see within the parliamentary party and from my conversations with ministers, they are very fully supportive because they understand the need for the NHS to modernise to make sure that patients are at the centre of decision-making about their health."

However, the row showed little signs of abating. Earlier this week an unnamed Downing Street source was reported as saying the health secretary should be "taken out and shot" for mishandling the policy. David Cameron was perceived to have offered Mr Lansley only lukewarm backing when the issue was raised at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

The Government has already "paused" the Health and Social Care Bill and accepted dozens of amendments since it was first introduced.

But the concessions have failed to quell protests from professional bodies such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.

The legislation has already suffered one defeat since reaching the Lords and there are fears that the process could drag on into next month.

In his speech today, Mr Lansley said: "As some of you may have heard, we're making a few changes south of the border. Giving patients more control of their own healthcare will embody the principle of shared decision making."

He added: "We're putting clinicians in charge, free from burdensome top-down, process-driven controls...I do believe we are about to see a huge upward shift in quality in the NHS in England."

Mr Lansley said his reasons for trying to modernise the health service are "very simple".

He said: "I want patients in the NHS to enjoy outcomes, results, that are consistently among the very best available anywhere in the world."

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "We already know that the Prime Minister isn't listening to doctors and nurses. But it's a shock to find out that even senior members of his own Cabinet have to take to a Conservative website to get through to him about the damage he is doing to the NHS."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Nurses, doctors and patients have been telling David Cameron for months that he's on the wrong track on the NHS.

"Now even members of his Cabinet are telling David Cameron that he is making a profound mistake on the NHS.

"I think what this shows is a Prime Minister who, every day that he presses on with this Bill, is increasingly out of touch with everyone who cares about the NHS.

"He should drop this Bill which is wasting billions of pounds on a bureaucratic reorganisation and threatens a creeping privatisation of our National Health Service."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Recruitment Genius: Implementation Consultant

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent