Tory backlash begins over NHS concessions

By Alex Stevenson

Conservative backbenchers are making their frustration felt after David Cameron made a series of major NHS reform concessions yesterday.

The prime minister bowed to pressure from the Liberal Democrats after sustained opposition to the health and social care bill from organisations across the healthcare sector.

Mr Cameron announced hospital doctors and nurses will be brought into the commissioning process, in addition to the original GPs whose consortia will be responsible for commissioning services.

Regulator Monitor will be given a duty to promote integration between services, rather than solely promoting competition.

And the government will keep its waiting time targets, with additional ‘outcomes’ – like readmission rates for the same problem – to be studied as well.

Enfield North MP Nick de Bois, who sat on the committee examining the paused legislation, is emerging as the ringleader of the Tory backbenches opposed to watering down health secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms.

He called the decision to abandon plans to make GP consortia begin commissioning by 2013 a “mistake”.

“Yes, we will need to help GP commissioners get there,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

“But if we don’t achieve that date we could end up with a two-tier health system much as we had under GP fund holding, and we could threaten the potential £5 billion savings over the lifetime of this parliament to put back into frontline services.”

Tory MPs have been riled by the way in which Mr Cameron has been forced to back down from some of the bill’s more controversial aspects because of Lib Dem opposition.

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday spoke for many of them when he pointed out deputy prime minister Nick Clegg had originally endorsed the plans in full, signing the foreword to Mr Lansley’s white paper last summer.

“He’s a bit of a Johnny-come-lately on this,” he said.

“They should go back to the drawing board on the NHS, it’s such a botched bill.”