12 Jun 2011

Nick Clegg hails victory over NHS reforms

Health and Social Care Editor

The Liberal Democrats claim victory in the battle to make substantial changes to NHS reforms after growing controversy over the plans, writes Victoria Macdonald.

To the irritation of backbench Conservative MPs, the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, will say that he has won concessions on almost all the points causing concern in the Health and Social Care Bill.

The claims come ahead of the publication tomorrow of the NHS Future Forum’s recommendations which have been handed to the Coalition Government this weekend.

The forum, set up because of increasing controversy over the reforms, will be divided into four parts and will include recommendations on the role of the regulator, Monitor, as well as on training and education for doctors, accountability, and the membership of the GP commissioning consortia.

But the Lib Dems will say that they have wrung out an agreement to slow the pace of change.

That GPs will not have to meet the 2013 deadline to form themselves into consortia; that Monitor will no longer be there just to promote competition; that private companies will not be given an advantage in bidding to run NHS services, and will not be allowed to cherry pick the easy cases.

Nick Clegg hails victory over NHS reforms

It is also believed that there is an agreement to make the Health Secretary accountable for the NHS. Proposed changes in the Bill would have devolved power to the independent NHS board.

The reforms were put on hold earlier this year because of fears that the changes could lead to the privatisation of the NHS and because of the pace and scale of the reforms.

Much of the changes called for by the Lib Dems were also demanded by organisations such as the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs and the NHS Confederation.

Professor Steve Field, who led the future forum, has spent weeks travelling around the county talking to interested parties and has held discussions with MPs from all parties over their concerns.