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Andrew Lansley silent on maternity U-turn

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The health secretary has refused to be drawn on whether the government will U-turn on its plans for maternity.

The government had said in July that maternity would be commissioned centrally while the responsibility for the majority of commissioning will be held by general practice. But Nursing Times revealed earlier this month that the government now intends maternity to be part of local GP commissioning.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme to respond to the report. He said: “Indeed, I saw that in the Nursing Times.”

However, he neither confirmed nor denied the change of plan and said that the decision on maternity would not be announced for “a few weeks” when the government publishes its response to the consultation on the Liberating the NHS white paper.  “At this point, in that particular question, I will leave that until our response to the consultation,” he said.

Mr Lansley also denied that the NHS reforms were a gamble and said that former prime minister Tony Blair had revealed in his memoirs that he regretted not pushing harder for change in the public services.

Responding to questions over the accountability of GP consortia Mr Lansley said that this was a problem in the current system. He said that primary care trusts “are not accountable to voters because nobody elected them”. He added that responsibility should be taken “collectively” between patients and clinicians.

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