Liberal Democrats deliver blow to Health Bill at spring conference

By Marina Soteriou, 12 March 2012

The RCGP chairwoman has welcomed the Liberal Democrats' blow to the Health Bill at their party conference.

Dr Charles West's motion calling for the Bill to be dropped was not chosen to be discussed by members at the conference

Dr Charles West's motion calling for the Bill to be dropped was not chosen to be discussed by members at the conference

The Liberal Democrats voted 314 to 270 for a motion to remove a line calling for peers to back the Bill, at their spring conference in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, at the weekend.

But another motion, calling for the Bill to be dropped, which chairman of Shrewsbury Liberal Democrats Dr Charles West helped draft, was not chosen to be discussed by members.

Part of the motion put forward by Shirley Williams which was passed, calls for the removal of the Competition Commission from the Bill, retaining Monitor’s regulation of foundation trusts after 2016 and ensuring that individual foundation trusts justify in advance any substantial increase in their private income.

The motion also called for ‘Liberal Democrats nationally and locally to work with royal colleges, NHS staff, patients and carers' groups and local authorities in the interests of upholding the NHS as a public service, ensuring its ability to meet the challenges of an ageing society despite constrained financial circumstances, and securing better health outcomes for all’.

This comes after both shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada wrote an open letter to Liberal Democrat members pleading with them to vote against the Bill.

Dr Gerada, whose letter was co-signed by seven other medical organisations including the Royal College of Midwives and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: ‘The vote shows that the grass root members are as concerned as the rest of us - GPs, nurses, healthcare professionals and the public.

‘I was happy they were finally able to discuss an issue that has been bothering us for 17 months.'

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