NHS reform scaled back after review

The Government unveiled big changes to its controversial reform plans for the NHS today after accepting the key recommendations of a panel of health experts.





Following an unprecedented "pause" in legislation prompted by unease among health professionals and Liberal Democrat MPs, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's proposals to extend competition in health provision have been significantly scaled back.



Prime Minister David Cameron said "we have listened, we have learned and we are improving our plans".



But Labour accused the Government of wasting billions of pounds by pressing ahead with an unnecessary reorganisation at a time when waiting lists are rising.



Shadow health secretary John Healey said the rewriting of the Health and Social Care Bill was a "humiliation" for Mr Lansley and called on him to apologise to patients and NHS staff.



The Health Secretary - who faced jeers and laughter from the Labour benches as he set out the revised plans to the House of Commons - insisted that the Government's decision to commission the NHS Future Forum to reassess its plans "demonstrated our willingness to listen and to improve our plans".



He said the amended Bill, which will be sent back to committee stage in the Commons with the aim of becoming law by next spring, contained "big changes" but did not abandon the principles of reform in his original plans.



Key changes, detailed by Mr Cameron, Mr Lansley and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during a visit to Guy's Hospital in London, include:



:: Nurses and consultants to be included on the boards of new GP groups responsible for commissioning healthcare services;



:: Stronger safeguards against a "market free-for-all", with the regulator Monitor required to protect patient interests and not to promote competition as an end in itself;



:: Additional safeguards against privatisation and to prevent private companies "cherry-picking" profitable NHS business;



:: Dropping the 2013 deadline for the introduction of commissioning groups, which will only become operative "when they are ready".



Mr Cameron said he now wanted to take the reforms forward in a "spirit of unity" with NHS staff.



"The fundamentals of our plans - more control for patients, more power to doctors and nurses, and less bureaucracy in the NHS - are as strong today as they have ever been," he said.



"But the detail of how we are going to make this all work has really changed as a direct result of this consultation."



Mr Clegg said the Government was making it clear that it was saying "no" to the sort of "free market dogma that can fragment the NHS".



He stressed that the reforms would be introduced at the "right pace - evolution, not revolution".



"Reforming an institution like that takes time. We have to be careful and considered. It's too important to get this wrong," said the Liberal Democrat leader.



Liberal Democrats are claiming the changes as an indication of the influence they wield within the coalition Government, with former leader Lord Ashdown saying Mr Clegg had "played a blinder" on the issue.



Lib Dem health minister Paul Burstow told BBC Radio 4's PM: "We have put competition back in its box."



But the claims were met with scorn from Conservative backbenchers.



Former minister John Redwood said: "I think the Liberal Democrats are quite wrong to claim this a victory.



"It wasn't the Liberal Democrats producing this report and it's an act of the collective Government producing these proposals."



The legislation exposed tensions within the coalition - with the Lib Dem spring conference voting against the plan to the fury of many Tory MPs, who broadly backed the reforms.



The Government was forced to take the unusual step of "pausing" the Bill and appointing the NHS Future Forum to come up with changes to allay staff concerns in a report, published yesterday.



Mr Cameron said it was "the whole Government, the whole Cabinet, the whole coalition" which had put forward the reform proposals and then accepted the need for a rethink.



"We are all responsible for this. I am every bit as responsible as Andrew Lansley for the fact that we decided we could improve on what we had already put forward," said the PM.



Labour leader Ed Miliband called for ministers to "go back to the drawing board", warning that their plans still involve "a bureaucratic reorganisation that's going to waste billions of pounds - money that should have been spent on patient care at a time when the NHS doesn't have huge amounts of money to spend".



Mr Healey told the Commons that the Health Secretary had humiliatingly had health policy "taken out of his hands".



But Mr Lansley dismissed his attack as "sheer opportunism", telling MPs: "It will come back to haunt him because the NHS is going to benefit from the changes we are proposing today. The NHS is going to take ownership of its own service to a greater extent."



The revised bill was denounced as "a recipe for privatisation" by the general secretary of the Unison union, Dave Prentis, who said it would "pave the way for private companies to grab any part of the NHS where they think they can turn a profit".



David Worskett, director of the NHS Partners Network, said independent healthcare providers were "disappointed" by the Government's failure to show whole-hearted commitment to the sector.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?