The Government’s controversial NHS reforms have again come under increasing attack as Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords are set to launch fresh amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill.
Lib Dem peers have again tabled a series of amendments including plans that allow the Competition Commission powers to review competition and that Foundation Trusts require permission from governors before sanctioning private contracts.
Tim Farron, President of the Lib Dems, has also called for all elements of competition to be scrapped from the legislation – which is set to resume its passage in Lords this week.
The Lib Dem move follows calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband to join forces with his party’s peers to put a halt to the reforms.
Writing in a letter in the Sunday Mirror, Mr Miliband said it was now time to make a stand before it’s too late. “The Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords must join with Labour to hole David Cameron’s health plans below the water line,” he said.
“If they do not the betrayal by the Lib Dems in allowing this bill through will be bigger than the row over university tuition fees.
“They will betray not only the people who rely on today’s NHS, but also generations to come.”
Mr Miliband’s comments followed those of former NHS Chief Executive Lord Crisp who described the reforms as a “mess” and missing the point.
Lord Crisp, speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, said he believed the bill was “unfortunately setting the NHS back”.
“I think the great mistake that the current Government has made – and I can say this as an independent and not a politician – is that this is a terrible confused and confusing bill,” he said.
“It has tried to elevate the ideas of competition and the use of the private sector, which are just mechanics, just mechanisms, as if they were the purpose.”
A DH spokesman played down the on-going criticisms of the reforms insisting the plans will
“harness the expertise of local doctors and nurses, who know better than anyone what their patients need”.
“The proposals promote health in partnership between the NHS and local communities and put local authorities in the driving seat alongside clinicians for improving the health of their communities,” said the spokesman.
“Improving integration between all health and care services is a crucial part of modernising the NHS.”