Q&A: The NHS shake-up

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The government is overhauling the way the NHS in England works.

Under the plans, GPs and other clinicians will be given much more responsibility for spending the budget in England, while greater competition with the private sector will be encouraged.

It has been dubbed one of the most radical plans in the history of the health service - and has certainly proved controversial.

Ministers even had to take the unprecedented step of putting the plans on hold last spring after criticisms from MPs and health unions.

After carrying out a "listening exercise" they agreed to make changes, but this has still not been enough to appease critics.

A host of health groups have recently said they totally oppose the plans - and these include some royal colleges which set professional standards as well as the major unions representing doctors, nurses and midwives.

The bill gained Royal Assent in March 2012, more than 14 months after first being tabled in the House of Commons.

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