David Cameron to take charge of NHS reforms
David Cameron will this week take personal charge of the Government’s health reforms, amid fierce criticism of the plans.
The Prime Minister will unveil a “listening exercise” to reassure the public, doctors and Coalition MPs that the NHS is not being privatised by the back door.
There will be a three month pause in the legislative process which allows Liberal Democrat opponents of the plans time to weaken them. The proposals will pass to the Lords in June, giving the Coalition time for further changes.
Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg, his Lib Dem deputy, and Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will explain the plans to give power to GP–led bodies and let private companies treat more NHS patients at a series of meetings.
They have been forced into the move after criticism from health experts and politicians.
Stephen Dorrell, the former Tory health minister, said that the Government had lost control of the changes. The electorate had the impression the reforms were an abrupt departure from those followed by health secretaries over the past two decades, he said.
“There’s a danger that the politics is seriously getting in the way of the policy,” he said. “The Government needs to rebuild political support.”
Officials have signalled that the Government is prepared to make some changes to the legislation to appease the Liberal Democrats.
These include the dropping of a requirement to force GPs to take control of health budgets even if they do not want to. There will also be new protections so that private firms cannot “cherry pick” the most lucrative work. Any changes are expected to be made during the Bill’s passage through the Lords in June.
Lib Dem backbenchers will meet on Monday evening to discuss what Mr Clegg should ask for in his negotiations.
Today MPs on the Health Select Committee will issue a report likely to be critical of the contentious issue of GPs commissioning care.
Tags: Commons-Health-Committee, Conservatives, David Cameron, Health, National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, red tape