Leaders face NHS reforms showdown
David Cameron and Nick Clegg are preparing for a showdown with disgruntled backbenchers about NHS reforms amid complaints they have been "playing politics" over the package.
The Prime Minister and his Liberal Democrat deputy are due to meet their respective MPs to set out the reworked package on Monday.
Tories have expressed anger after Mr Clegg claimed victory for his party in the fraught negotiations.
He is due to tell a gathering of Lib Dem parliamentarians on Sunday evening that their "voice has been heard" and the new package is a "job well done". "We have won," a source close to the leader said.
The results of a consultation on the controversial health shake-up are due to be unveiled formally on Monday morning, but Mr Cameron has already signalled a series of key concessions. They include allowing hospital doctors and nurses to take control of commissioning services as well as GPs, and scrapping the 2013 deadline for consortia to start work.
Aides to the Prime Minister insist he was the driving force behind the policy rethink, but senior Lib Dems took to the television studios today to express their delight.
Former party leader Lord Ashdown said he was "celebrating" the deal that had been brokered and Mr Clegg had "played a blinder". He added: "It's a victory, if it's victory for anything, for the coalition process, for the process of open, sensible Government that arrives at the right conclusion."
Mr Clegg's chief of staff, Norman Lamb, who previously suggested he could resign if the reforms were not changed, said he was now satisfied.
"It will be a voluntary process, moving away from top down restructuring," he told the BBC's Politics Show. "I think the changes we have secured in negotiation with the Conservatives will improve the reforms."
Mr Lamb said he had no knowledge of briefings to the press about a Lib Dem "victory" and also praised Health Secretary Andrew Lansley for accepting changes to the reform package he had championed.