NHS reforms are right, says Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his Government's NHS reforms after a group of top doctors and health specialists warned they will do "irreparable harm" to the health service.
More than 400 experts sent an open letter to the House of Lords urging peers to reject the coalition's controversial Health and Social Care Bill when they vote later this month.
The letter, also sent to the Daily Telegraph, said: "The Bill will do irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients and to society as a whole.
"It ushers in a significantly heightened degree of commercialisation and marketisation that will fragment patient care; aggravate risks to individual patient safety; erode medical ethics and trust within the health system; widen health inequalities; waste much money on attempts to regulate and manage competition; and undermine the ability of the health system to respond effectively and efficiently to communicable disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies."
The letter includes signatories from across a wide spectrum of public health practice, including more than 40 directors of public health and some 100 leading public health academics.
Its authors added: "While we welcome the emphasis placed on establishing a closer working relationship between public health and local government, the proposed reforms as a whole will disrupt, fragment and weaken the country's public health capabilities.
"The Government claims that the reforms have the backing of the health professions. They do not. Neither do they have the general support of the public.
"It is our professional judgment that the Health and Social Care Bill will erode the NHS's ethical and co-operative foundations and that it will not deliver efficiency, quality, fairness or choice. We therefore request that you reject passage of the Health and Social Care Bill."
Mr Cameron told ITV1's Daybreak: "Of course there are doctors and others within the NHS that are wary about parts of our proposals, about greater choice for patients, about greater competition with the NHS.
"There have always been opponents to that, but the point of the exercise we held in the summer, when we paused and restarted the reforms, was to bring more of the health service on board, and many GPs, many doctors and many in the health service recognise that change is necessary if we are going to drive up standards in the health service, in which we invest and care about so much."