The government looks likely to leave nurses and the rest of the NHS workforce in limbo as its health reforms face further significant delays.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last week called for major changes to the Health Bill and for it to be “recommitted” – meaning it will be reviewed by a bill committee in the Commons for a second time.
Nursing Times understands this could mean the bill will not become law until spring next year. It could delay major parts of the planned changes, for example, setting up the NHS Commissioning Board and starting to give GP consortia the go ahead to take over from primary care trusts.
It will also mean further uncertainty for the NHS workforce, particularly for nurses working for PCTs. Senior nurses have previously warned ministers that the NHS is “haemorrhaging” nurse leaders from PCTs due to the reforms.
Mr Clegg’s chief political adviser Norman Lamb told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal it would take time to change the bill and then review it in the Commons.
He said: “Because the changes are significant and substantial, you can’t just do some quick amendments and shift it on into the House of Lords. We’re talking about proper process here – you just can’t rush through this.
“There needs to be work on drafting of clauses and so forth, and it’s really important that this is done thoroughly and comprehensively and we don’t leave loose ends.”