Ministers listening to NHS concerns
Ministers are to travel the country listening to complaints and concerns about the Government's controversial NHS reforms.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will co-host another public engagement event on Wednesday as they seek to tackle widespread anger about the proposals.
Over the coming weeks, health ministers will fan out across the country holding similar "listening events". The move comes after the coalition Government announced last week it was going to pause and reflect on the advice and objections of doctors, nurses, unions and the public.
Mr Cameron, Mr Lansley and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg addressed about 100 NHS professionals at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey on Wednesday as they sought to demonstrate they were listening to concerns.
The Prime Minister and Health Secretary will hold a roundtable meeting with representatives of the voluntary sector on Wednesday morning. Mr Lansley will then attend the Royal College of Nursing congress in the afternoon.
They will be supported by the new NHS Future Forum, which is to be chaired by Professor Steve Field and made up of patient representatives and healthcare professionals.
"It's time to pause, listen and reflect so we can improve the NHS we all know and love," Mr Lansley said. "We have made progress with the delivery of our modernisation plans already. But that's not enough, we want to make improvements.
"Although we are increasing the NHS budget by £11.5 billion, demands are so great that we also need to modernise the NHS in order to sustain it for future generations. I encourage people to engage with our plans so that we have an NHS that is truly world class."
Prof Field added: "This is a genuine chance to make a real difference to the future of the NHS. The NHS must change to meet the challenges and demands it faces. Most people have strong views about the NHS and this is a real opportunity for people to have their say and help shape the changes."
The Prime Minister stressed last week that the Government was ready to listen and "improve" the Health and Social Care Bill - which will put GPs in charge of commissioning services - but insisted that change was essential.