Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Labour motion on NHS reforms fails

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has seen off a Labour attack on his controversial NHS reforms
Andrew George said that saving the NHS was more important than saving a few egos in the coalition

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has seen off a Labour attack on his controversial NHS reforms in the Commons.

A Labour motion, highlighting "growing concerns" over the Government's handling of the plan to give greater power and control over funding to family doctors, was defeated by 284 votes to 231, majority 53.

Mr Lansley promised that significant changes would be made to the legislation implementing the reforms as he addressed a raucous House of Commons.

He insisted the Health and Social Care Bill would not allow private companies to "cherry-pick" the NHS's most profitable services.

He told MPs that while the Government had an electoral mandate for its reforms, the Bill would only implement changes which were best for patients.

And he claimed Labour would have cut £30 billion from the NHS budget while the coalition was only looking to make efficiency savings of £20 billion.

Mr Lansley said: "Let me be clear, there will be substantive changes to the Bill in order to deliver improvements for patients, but there is only one issue for me: will it deliver better care for patients?

"That is why we are going to pursue NHS modernisation, that is why we will stick to our principles. It is equally why we are listening to improve the Bill. That is what the coalition Government is committed to do."

A Conservative Party spokesman later stressed that while the coalition was looking to make £20 billion of efficiency savings in the NHS, the money would be ploughed back into patient care. The Government has pledged to increase spending on the NHS by £11.5 billion over the next four years.

The Government has announced a "pause" in the legislation's passage through Parliament in the face of mounting concern over the scale of the changes.

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