NHS reforms delayed over 'concerns'
The Government's controversial NHS reforms are to be re-examined after the Health Secretary admitted some groups had "genuine concerns" about the plans, including the speed of the changes.
In the face of mounting opposition, Andrew Lansley was forced to make a Commons statement to defend aspects of the Health and Social Care Bill, which completed its committee stage last week.
He said the Government would take the opportunity of a "natural break" in the passage of the Bill to "pause, listen and engage" over the concerns and bring forward amendments to "improve the plans further".
But he said the NHS needed to change although private providers would not be allowed to exploit the new system and "cherry-pick" the most profitable services - a criticism highlighted by opponents of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The Bill completed its committee stage last Thursday but the speed with which it had progressed through Parliament had caused concern among doctors, nurses and patients, Mr Lansley said.
He did not say how long the delay would last but said the Government would listen to concerns.
Mr Lansley told the Commons: "We recognise that this speed of progress has brought with it some substantive concerns. Some of those concerns are misplaced or based on misrepresentations but we recognise that some are genuine.
"We want to continue to listen to, engage with and learn from experts, patients and frontline staff within the NHS and beyond and to respond accordingly.
"I can therefore tell the House that we propose to take the opportunity to take a natural break in the passage of the Bill - to pause, to listen and to engage with all those who want the NHS to succeed and to subsequently bring forward amendments to improve the plans further in the normal way.
Earlier, Labour leader Ed Miliband branded the Government's reform plans "extremely dangerous" and called on the Prime Minister to think again about his "reckless" proposals. He said in a speech in London that changes had to be made in the running of the NHS - but not the way the Government was planning.