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Commons to debate NHS reform plans

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will attempt to stave off a rebellion over divisive health service reforms that return to the Commons.

Liberal Democrat critics have branded the overhaul "the biggest upheaval of the NHS in its history" and have vowed to oppose it during two days of detailed scrutiny by MPs.

Mr Clegg attempted to rally support for the proposals last night at a meeting with the party in the Commons.

But aides admitted there is still a "range of views" on the plans and they expect "robust interventions" today, although they are "confident" they will win enough support for the reforms to progress.

Ahead of the debate the NHS Confederation warned there was a "real danger" the shake-up would paralyse the health service.

In April the Government announced a "pause" in the Health and Social Care Bill amid widespread anger over the reforms among NHS professionals and patient groups.

After further consultation a series of revisions were announced in June in an attempt to appease critics.

But Lib Dem MP Andrew George, a member of the Commons Health select committee, remains defiant.

He said: "The Bill breaks the coalition agreement, is based upon a false claim that the NHS performs poorly in comparison with health systems across Europe, and represents the biggest upheaval of the NHS in its history at precisely the time it needs stability and certainty.

"The Bill runs the high risk of producing a National Health Service which is driven more by private profit than by concern about patient care, risks undermining emergency services through the fragmentation of health systems, is a major missed opportunity to produce a health service that is more accountable to the patients and communities it serves, and fails to do what really needs to be done - streamline the pathways between health and social care."

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