GP commissioning dropped
Liberal Democrat backbencher Andrew George has said the changes to the Health and Social Care bill outlined today mean it is effectively "an entirely new bill". Mr George, who was among a number of Lib Dems opposed to the Bill as it stood, said the redrafted legislation he hoped "the majority of the professions in the NHS would find acceptable". Speaking to the BBC, his party colleague Baroness Shirley Williams agreed that there would be a a real change in the shape of what’s going to be proposed".
Mr Cameron confirmed that GP-led commissioning will be dropped from the Government’s plans to reform the NHS, and changed instead to clinical-led commissioning. The Prime Minister also signalled a new role for Monitor to promote integration not competition – but insisted competition was still important. He once again promised the Government would not sell off the NHS. He said today: "As long as I’m Prime Minister… we will not be selling off the NHS or moving towards an insurance scheme, or moving towards an American-style private system."
The head of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, said he was "delighted" with the changes announced by the Prime MInister, claiming that "common sense has prevailed".
Ed Miliband earlier accused the Prime Minister of breaking his promises on the NHS, saying the Prime Minister has "broken... two of these pledges: on maximum waiting times and on protecting the NHS budget". He added: "David Cameron has spent a year mismanaging the NHS and the consequence is chaos, confusion and damaged patient care."
Mr Miliband said that he would "strengthen accountability for patients" and called for an independent inquiry into care homes. He added that the Government should "think again" about its NHS reforms, and said the response of the Coalition has "not been muscular enough".
Tension continues to brew around the Bill, as Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen today dubbed its critics “Stalinist protectionist elements”. Andrew Lansley said Mr Miliband was "misleading the public" with his comments on the NHS, and that "Labour’s 2010 Election Manifesto matched the Coalition’s NHS investment plans".
Downing Street has said that what people care about is “results”. The response came after a PoliticsHome poll on the NHS found that the public backed reform but didn’t trust the Conservatives to implement it. The survey, in conjunction with the YouGov@Cambridge thinktank, also found that the Lib Dems face long-term damage over the health service overhaul.