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Lords to discuss reforms to NHS

Ministers are to seek to allay peers' concerns over the coalition's divisive NHS reforms when the legislation returns to the House of Lords.

In a bid to head off a damaging revolt at this weekend's Liberal Democrat spring conference, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has secured government support for a series of changes to the Health and Social Care Bill.

Lib Dem activists are gearing up to take on the Lib Dem leadership over the NHS shake-up at the party's spring gathering - a year after a previous revolt there forced a "pause" in the Bill.

Under the latest concessions, large increases in private work by NHS hospitals will require the approval of governing bodies.

Ministers are promising a vote on any move to increase the proportion of private income by 5% or more.

Raising the cap to allow foundation trusts to raise up to 49% of funds through private work has been one of several controversial aspects of the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns the move will inevitably lead to longer waiting lists for NHS patients as hospitals try to take on more private work - something the Government denies.

Last week a GP commissioning group came out publicly against the reforms, warning they were getting in the way of their work and were not needed to improve services to patients.

Amid hostility from a large number of professional bodies representing doctors, nurses and other health workers, unions plan to stage a mass protest outside Parliament.

Under the proposed amendments, planned private work and the expected income from it would need to be included in annual forward plans submitted by directors to a trust's governors. The governors - the majority of whom are elected from within a trust's membership - would be able to vote on any proposal which saw the proportion of income from that work rise by 5% or more.


From Belfast Telegraph