Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said the government’s controversial proposals for reforming the NHS are to be put on hold so that there can be more time for consultation.
MPs heard from Mr Lansley that there were “genuine concerns” with the plans, which would see GPs take over the role of commissioning health services and result in the abolishment of primary care trusts.
He said that while there needed to be a change to the NHS system, the new structure would not be open to exploitation from private providers, who would not be able to choose the services that offered the most profit – a point that had been highlighted by critics of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The Bill completed its committee stage last Thursday but the speed with which it had progressed through Parliament has caused concern among doctors, nurses and patients, Mr Lansley said.
He did not say how long the delay would last but said the government would listen to concerns.
Mr Lansley told the Commons: “We recognise that this speed of progress has brought with it some substantive concerns. Some of those concerns are misplaced or based on misrepresentations but we recognise that some are genuine.
“We want to continue to listen to, engage with and learn from experts, patients and frontline staff within the NHS and beyond and to respond accordingly.”
Mr Lansley said that 43 GP consortia had recently applied successfully to adopt the government’s strategy while local authorities were taking on responsibility for acting as public health boards.
He said the government had already improved its plans by strengthening the scrutiny process of local authorities while it had worked to ensure competition would be on the “basis of quality not price”.
But Mr Lansley said there could be further improvements to the Bill when it came to opening up the NHS to private providers. Emergency units “clearly will never be based on competition”, he said.
Copyright © Press Association 2011
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“Crackers all this should have been done up front. How on earth are we supposed to get things sorted out if as soon as we try to put measures in place for the most recent idiocy the goal posts change, absolutely madness. What a waste of resources. Do politicians etc think these changes just happen because they will it, do they really not realise the amount of time and effort involved in driving through change never mind the disruption it causes?” – Name and address withheld