UK Minister plegdes NHS reform changes

George Osborne - Chancellor of the Exchequer

George Osborne has said the Government would make changes to its controversial NHS reform plans.

The Chancellor was speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg demanded amendments to the Bill going through Parliament.

Mr Osborne said: “I want changes as well, so does (Prime Minister) David Cameron.”

The Chancellor tried to play down fears the changes amounted to backdoor privatisation, saying: “We want to reassure people we’re not – and never have wanted to – privatising the NHS. We believe in the NHS as a public service free at the point of use. We want to carry health professionals with us as well as the public in reforming an institution which is very dear to everyone’s hearts.”

Mr Clegg had said unless there are “substantial, significant changes” to Mr Lansley’s proposals to hand commissioning powers to GPs and extend private provision of NHS services, he will tell Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to vote them down.

The warning came as Mr Clegg set out his plans to be more assertive within the coalition Government in response to the drubbing received by the Liberal Democrats in last week’s elections.

The Lib Dem leader accepted his party’s traditional supporters were “anxious” about the programme of spending cuts which the Government has signed up to, but insisted that the coalition’s efforts to reduce the deficit must continue.

His comments came as Labour leader Ed Miliband issued a plea to disgruntled Lib Dems to jump ship from the coalition and join him in opposing the Conservatives – a call which was dismissed as “tactics” by Mr Clegg.

The Lib Dem leader told the show: “Protecting the NHS, rather than undermining it, is now my number one priority.

“I am not going to ask Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to proceed with legislation on something as precious and cherished – particularly for Liberal Democrats – as the NHS unless I personally am satisfied that what these changes do is an evolutionary change in the NHS and not a disruptive revolution.”
Source: Press Association

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