MPs approve NHS bill as Labour bid fails

Cabinet Ministers want the NHS bill to enter law next week

The government's health changes have survived their final parliamentary test and are set to become law.

A Labour call for MPs to postpone their final consideration of the NHS overhaul in England until an assessment of the potential risks is published was defeated by 82 votes.

The House of Lords approved the bill late on Monday evening.

The government hopes the Health and Social Care Bill will now get Royal Assent and become law by Easter.

The bill has had a difficult passage through Parliament with the government conceding substantial changes to the legislation.

The government overcame the final major parliamentary obstacle to the bill when it defeated the Labour motion on the issue of potential risks by 328 to votes to 246.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said as the bill was debated: "The only hope that I can give to people worried about the future of the NHS today is that this might be the end of the bill but it is just the beginning of our campaign."

But Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the Commons: "The truth is, this is political opportunism dressed up as principle. This is a debate for no purpose."

Start Quote

We will continue to campaign hard to try and mitigate the worst excesses of this bill”

End Quote Dave Prentis Unison

After the debate, Health Minister Simon Burns said: "The question of the risk register was debated in the House of Lords and defeated.

"We have published two full impact assessments which completely cover all aspects of the legislation."

Mr Burnham pledged that the changes would be overturned if Labour won the next election.

Ahead of the debate, Conservative and Lib Dem ministers "banged" the table at a cabinet meeting to mark the impending passing of the NHS reforms into law.

It will not officially come into force until the Queen has signed the bill and it returns to the Commons for Royal Assent some time before Easter.

The legislation abolishes Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts and gives much greater control over care budgets and commissioning decisions to GPs and other health professionals.

Professional bodies representing doctors, nurses and other NHS workers have joined opposition politicians in fighting the changes.

There has also been criticism from several leading Liberal Democrats of Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's plans. But the prime minister's spokesman said there had been "cross-party banging" of the table in cabinet.

But unions said they would not relent in their opposition to the bill when it becomes law.

"We will continue to campaign hard to try and mitigate the worst excesses of this bill," said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, adding that ministers were ignoring the "groundswell of opposition" to the proposals.

"Patients will have a two-tier health service and where they live will determine the healthcare they receive."

Members of Unison, which represents more than a million public sector workers, held a minute's silence outside Parliament in protest at the changes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    As someone with a 3 month old daughter in NHS care since birth, I am gutted to see the for-profit government mess with the NHS. I am 'lucky' to have a baby in intensive care now, as give it 5 years and it will cost me an arm and a leg and huge premiums to have been one in 10,000 people to have a cardiac baby. I love our NHS, why did we not do more to prevent the Tories distroying it?

  • Comment number 533.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    There endeth democracy in the UK, it's all about money from now on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    " marie
    We're concerned as private sector will ALWAYS put profits ahead of patient care."

    You mean like the issue of PIP implants showed? It seems private medicine isn't even covered under the sale of goods act, so the NHS picks up the pieces: classic case of privatising profits, socialising losses!

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    I am still waiting for someone to tell me why this is privatisation of the NHS, I suspect I shall be waiting for a very long time.


    Really? I've looked at some of the insurance care we have in the UK, and alot of them work out to around £1 a day. In fact the quote I just got was for £550 a year, less than what I pay to the NHS in tax apparantly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    @500 'marie'
    @499/512 'ihopethisoneworks'

    Yes, these posters are right. Furthermore, front line staff are being lost as we speak. These losses will be 'rationalised' by hiring more private agency staff from a different and unaccountable balance sheet for private agencies at tax-payer' expense.

    The worst is yet to come and the public don't know the half of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    #patients can't afford to be losers#
    They wont be, even your comment shows the losers will be the badly run hospitals to the better run ones. So the patient never loses, they gain better services. Still free at the point of use and tax based funded. Only losers are bad, and or greedy, management and staff.

    Whose side are you on, less good staff, or patients?

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    cont 515 It also means as privatisation puts profits 1st, standards are driven down.We've already seen this occur with hospital catering & cleaning after that was privatised; MRSA, Cdiff & 'hospital malnutrition' didn't exist prior to 'out-sourcing' when standards of cleanliness, hygiene & meals all went downhill.
    I fear this will now happen with patient care; no where does this bill address care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    Callous cameron the dictater has got his way Poor people this is a bad day for you things now can only get worse.
    Shame on this government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    Yesterday roads, today the NHS. Cameron and his cronies new olympic sport the grabathon is well under way. A sport for special interest groups (invitees only); bankers, big business CEO's, non-exec Directors, MP's, Lords and Ladies, in which the object is to grab as much from the spectators (the rest of us) as possible, taking what is ours without consent whilst telling us it is for our own good

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    Private healthcare? Firstly money upfront. Secondly if you have any health issues you will find insurance difficult and expensive to come by. NHS, pitch up and someone will try to help to the best of their ability and available resources. Stop bleating that private is best, look around and embrace the joy of rail travel, water and energy. The NHS needs work not demolition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    510.matt in the uk
    3 Minutes ago
    Or in the gents!! We are all human and that is why I detest idolatry, whether it be about pop stars, politicians, footballers or the Monarchy. Still, remember to drop her a line - she might just listen.

  • Comment number 522.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    510. matt in the uk

    Or nude...

    No wait.. NOOOO.

    I need to burn that image from my brain..

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    It was brought in 1945 for the right reasons, but the road it has taken since and in the modern world of today, it isn't fit for purpose."

    No health service is "fit for purpose" in the modern world. They all face potentially infinite demand for finite resources and all impose rationing of some kind. The US by refusing cover to many; France by requiring patient contributions; UK by queues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    I do not know if this bill will work or not. But this is what democracy is about. The NHS is too precious to the UK public and if the Coalition mess it up they will loose the next general election. Labour will either make an issue of it for the 2014 election or there will be a no confidence vote between 2014 and 2018. Either way they are risking their future by making this change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.


    "Judging by the shrill hysteria of the Left and Liberals I guess the government are doing something right!"

    ummm...... no. the liberals are in the government. wakey wakey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    I am going to be really peed off at hearing "I voted Tory but I didn't vote for this".

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    'Gold plated salaries and pensions for the public sector NO MORE! Get your noses out of the trough!'

    is that you best you can do? shout silly uninformed daily mail headlines at us in upper case? pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    501 We're concerned as private sector will ALWAYS put profits ahead of patient care. The risk is we end up paying for many essential services as occured (eg dentistry, eye tests) under the last tory gov't. If it transpires we must pay for treatment or to see a specialist this will BANCRUPT many people.
    The British NHS has been shown to be one of the most EFFICIENT health care systems in the world.


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