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Government suffers NHS bill defeat


The government suffered its first defeat on highly contentious plans to reform the health service just hours after the Prime Minister mounted a passionate defence of the shake-up.

David Cameron, whose disabled son Ivan died in 2009, told the Commons the overhaul was essential to ensure that everyone received the “amazing” care his family had.

But peers backed an amendment, by a majority of four, to the Health and Social Care Bill that called for greater emphasis on mental health when it returned to the Lords. There were three Liberal Democrat rebels - Lord Alliance, Lord Carlile of Berriew and Baroness Tonge.

The UK Faculty of Public Health has become the latest in a string of professional healthcare bodies to call for the Bill to be scrapped.

A survey of members found that 93% believed the Bill would damage the NHS and the health of people in England and three-quarters wanted the Faculty to demand its withdrawal.

Faculty president Professor Lindsey Davies said: “We are now calling on the government to withdraw the Bill in its entirety, because it would be in the best interests of everyone’s health.”

The government has already accepted scores of amendments to the Bill, including a guarantee that the health secretary will remain ultimately responsible for providing NHS services in England.

There are fears that the key issue of competition in the NHS may not be settled before next month’s Liberal Democrat spring conference.

Reports earlier this week suggested that the idea had been floated within Downing Street of inviting Labour’s former health secretary, Alan Milburn, to accept a peerage in order to replace Mr Lansley and take forward the job of reforming the NHS.

But Mr Milburn said he was not aware of any such offer and insisted there was “fat chance” of him accepting it and accused Mr Lansley of “bungling” the reforms, which will create a “patchwork quilt of complexity, compromise and confusion” that would leave the NHS even more centralised than before.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “This Health Bill is an unfolding disaster for the government.

“The government is damaging frontline patient care with its top-down reorganisation of the NHS.”

Health minister Simon Burns insisted the government “had not made a mess” of the Bill.

He said Mr Lansley had a “total grasp of the workings of the intricacies of the NHS”.

Challenged over the scale of opposition from professional health bodies, he insisted many of the organisations supported elements of the reforms.

“Because of the size of the Bill and the range of subjects being dealt with there are things that those organisations like, there are things that they don’t like,” he told BBC 2’s Newsnight.

He added: “A number of those organisations, like the Royal College of GPs, like the BMJ today, they have formed their opinions on surveys they have carried out which are self-selecting, they are of a very small minority of their members, you can vote as often as you like in these surveys to give distorted views, and then they have reached a conclusion, which is not representative.”


Readers' comments (43)

  • these tory idiots will push this bill through regardless

    privatisation is what they want...and to line the pockets of there millionare friends who run thses private medical companies!!!

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  • "David Cameron, whose disabled son Ivan died in 2009, told the Commons the overhaul was essential to ensure that everyone received the “amazing” care his family had."

    yes, but all this "amazing" care was given before his overhaul and there does not seem to be any guarantee that everybody will continue to receive it afterwards especially by all these private organisations.

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  • tinkerbell

    As controversial as this may sound, and heaven help me when i said it to my husband 'I like David Cameron'. I am talking on a truly personal level devoid of political party. I think he too has been led up the swanee by Lansley as we all have in OUR NHS. Initially i was prepared to give these Tory spivs the benefit of the doubt that OUR NHS was safe in their hands. Then look what happened. I never voted for them but i can understand why some did. Unfortunatley it is his party and he has to take the blame too. It has been left to Cameron to support a clown rather than admit he has Coco in his cabinet.

    What may have started out as a well meant cut backs in bureaucracy and saving money in other areas other than staffing has been turned into a travesty by Lansley. I would not want anyone taken out and shot as his own party have allegedly suggested happen to Lansley but i would like to see Lansley thrown out of office for his total incompetence.

    I would like to see Mr Cameron come to the realisation if he hasn't already that Lansley was promoted beyond his competence level and has created another mess for our country that we could well do without at the moment. I would like to see Mr Cameron tell Lansley 'mind the door doesn't hit you up the arse on your way out' then perhaps we can put all this wasted money back into OUR NHS and start again with a new redesign, at some later date, to save money that doesn't compromise the fundamental principals of OUR NHS and our society.

    For the moment Mr Cameron give us all a rest and breathing space from this madman and get rid of Coco.

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  • i wonder what Mr cameron thinks about the fact i have just qualified with my RN/BSc (hons) degree in nursing practice and can not get a job as there are none!! i am just applying for job seekers - great an unemployed nurse! i have NEVER EVER been so upset and deflated. The world has gone mad. The ONLY way to improve the quality of patient care is to employ more staff- its not rocket science Mr C and the wards are crying out for us. This is an utter discrace, i have qualified with 50 peers and only 5 have jobs!!!!

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  • tinkerbell | 9-Feb-2012 4:05 pm

    it looks like we are just going to have to leave them to get on with it and sadly learn from the error of their ways. it doesn't look as though they are going to relent. experience is the best teacher and they are like babies learning to walk but not of the type that take guidance from their elders or betters.

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  • Still no signs of Mike!

    very strange. maybe he is now concentrating all his energy on settling into the new job in Australia and has given up on the fate of NHS.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Feb-2012 5:07 pm

    Hang in there. I think we are on the brink of things getting better very soon. I have just renewed my yearly £76 NMC payment, is there even an NMC at the moment? All the house of cards are tumbling down, maybe all the rot is finally coming to light and we are in for a big shake up across the whole of nursing, finally making people/governments realise that we are a very much needed part of society. Keep on keeping on and don't ever give up. Your time will come as more of us retire this year.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Feb-2012 5:59 pm

    Yes i was thinking about Mike today hoping he's OK. Great guy, sincere and passionate. Hope wherever you are Mike that all is well with you.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Feb-2012 5:42 pm

    They are going to relent with egg all over their faces. They're just going to have to learn the hard way.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Feb-2012 5:07 pm

    "i have qualified with 50 peers and only 5 have jobs!!!!"

    as you say this is an utter disgrace and I can empathise with all the feelings of despair having felt let badly let down by the NHS and nursing in the UK as well. However, as Tinkerbell says, the huge generation of 'baby boomer' nurses are coming up for retirement and this should create new posts as soon as the government realise that the NHS and other services cannot run without enough nurses. it seems that telling them the problems that shortages create does not work. they have to try out their own ideas and find out for themselves. however, their senseless cat and mouse game cannot last forever, or even for much longer, and hopefully a new and better era for the NHS and nursing will begin.

    Please do not give up hope as with all that training and your hard work you will be needed.

    the government and NHS employers are very short sighted as their abuse will cause them to loose well qualified and also experienced staff to other professions or abroad where they are more appreciated and can reap greater benefits. I certainly do not regret having emigrated to Europe, and now retired here, the gains are enormous. My only regret is having been so unappreciated and shabbily treated in the UK - and until recently I thought I was alone with all my difficulties and I was the problem and now I realise that this is not so!

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