Here’s how The Guardian reports today’s news that the Coalition will offer further concessions to the NHS reform bill in an attempt to head off a revolt in the House of Lords led by Lib Dem peer Baroness Williams:
… ministers will table a series of amendments to the health and social care bill that will oblige Andrew Lansley to maintain the NHS as a national public service and, his critics say, limit his ambitions to expand the role of the private sector. The changes will also spell out the kind of services that must be offered by GPs and will effectively ban them from withholding certain forms of care from patients. …
The peers, led by the Lib Dem, Baroness Williams, and supported by a former Tory lord chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, have complained that the original bill left serious legal doubt as to whether the secretary of state would any longer be responsible for providing a “comprehensive health service for the people of England free at the point of need”. They feared that the absence of a chain of accountability would allow the service to become fragmented as different groups of doctors adopted different approaches and the role of the private sector expanded.
Lansley’s reforms will abolish two major tiers of health service bureaucracy and devolve greater responsibility for commissioning care to GPs – moves the health secretary believes will deliver a more efficient service and a system of care tailored better to patients’ needs.
The Department of Health confirmed the changes would be made to the bill but denied they were a panic response following a fortnight in which Lansley’s approach has been criticised by a cross-party group of MPs and a growing number of health professionals.