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.”