Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claims the Government has “fought together” in its efforts to introduce its proposals set out in the Health and Social Care Bill.
Speaking to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference, the Health Secretary says he has battled against criticism from Labour and left-wing unions who have misunderstood his plans.
Mr Lansley said there had been “misinterpretation, misinformation and misrepresentation” about the Bill but the reforms remain “the right thing to do” for a better NHS.
He admitted that brining change has “not been easy” and the Government has always been“absolutely clear” over its plans.
“We are committed to the values of the NHS,” the Health Secretary said. “To a comprehensive, high-quality service for all, free at the point of use and based on need, not ability to pay. The Health Bill will safeguard those values.”
The Bill will also “improve quality, reduce health inequalities, empower patients and staff, improve local accountability and strengthen public health services”, he added.
The Health Secretary said to “reassure people” that the Bill is right for patients and the NHS, the Government consulted “the country’s top experts”, the NHS Future Forum, to address concerns and offer their recommendations. He said that amendments have now been made “so that competition is on quality, not price; to ensure the continuity of services for patients; to support education and training; and to strengthen integrated care”.
He ended his address by outlining his and the Prime Minister’s commitment to the NHS. “While I am Secretary of State, the NHS will never be fragmented, privatised or undermined. I am personally committed to an NHS which gives equal access, and excellent care.”
The NHS reforms have faced a continual wall of criticism, its most recent from the BMA, which said that the Bill “poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England”.