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Liberal Democrats condemn NHS reforms

14 March 2011

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Liberal Democrats have dealt leader Nick Clegg a sharp rebuke over the government’s controversial NHS reforms.

At the party’s spring conference in Sheffield this weekend, party members overwhelmingly passed a motion against the coalition’s plans to put GPs in charge of commissioning services.

Speaker after speaker demanded a rethink, with MP John Pugh claiming the reforms would create the “biggest quango in the country”.

Baroness Shirley Williams branded the changes “lousy”, while backbencher Andrew George insisted the Lib Dems should not be “the architects of [the NHS’s] demise”.

Mr Clegg played down the heavy defeat during a question and answer session on Sunday, insisting that “almost all” the amended motion went “with the grain” of the government’s reforms.

“I am now going to look at it in considerable detail,” he said. “Because I think a lot of what we have talked about this weekend – greater accountability, greater transparency, making sure we don’t have a wilful disruptive approach to diversity of providers and don’t allow the profit motive and price competition to run a coach and horses through the NHS – that’s precisely what is happening.”

However, the vote will increase the pressure on the leadership to try to water down the proposals and reduce the scope for private sector involvement in health provision.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Liberal Democrats

What’s your view? Do you agree with Lib Dem voters? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Yes!! but what’s the point Nick Clegg will vote with the government anyway” – Wendy Ribbands, W Yorkshire