Cameron ‘on the brink’ of NHS concessions

By staff

David Cameron is getting closer to abandoning Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, according to reports – and could be prepared to lose his health secretary in the process.

Downing Street has begun ‘war-gaming’ the scenario in which Mr Lansley resigns after much of his reforms are abandoned, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

His health and social care bill has prompted a huge rebellion from the health sector, as well as from the Conservatives’ coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg even raised the issue with Mr Cameron while the pair were waiting for US president Barack Obama to address parliamentarians in Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

The Mail on Sunday used a lipreader to provide a transcript of their brief conversation on the issue, in which Mr Cameron suggested to Mr Clegg that “most people want to change it [the NHS]”.

Mr Clegg replied: “Well, what you mean is, you want to change it! I mean… we’re
worried about that.”

Mr Cameron admitted that “that’s one of the problems” before adding: “Best not talk about it now, eh, we’ll talk about it another time, eh?”

Later, the “clearly annoyed” prime minister appeared to make a reference to Mr Lansley when he added: “Well, it’s nothing to do with him now!”

Mr Lansley himself is thought to have made clear he does not want another job in the Cabinet.

But a senior ministerial source told the Mirror on Sunday that concessions would be “much bigger than expected”.

Mr Lansley’s proposals to hand GP consortia commissioning powers have slowly become more and more controversial since they were first proposed last summer.

Concerns about accountability, their impact on medical training and the proposal to make regulator Monitor solely responsible for promoting competition have all sparked concerns.