Talking exclusively to GPonline.com, Norman Lamb (Lib Dem, North Norfolk), who had threatened to quit unless the reform plans were overhauled, said the updated Bill has been well received by Liberal Democrat MPs.
He said he expected the Bill to pass through the House of Commons ‘without a crisis’, as the 23 amendments the party called for were largely met following the listening exercise. He said the House of Lords will also be ‘greatly assured’ by the changes to the Bill.
It is key indication that the new Bill will pass quickly through parliament, as the
coalition government relies on its 57 Lib Dem MPs for a working majority in parliament.
Mr Lamb said Bill could complete its journey through the House of Commons by summer recess, which starts 19 July, with the Bill becoming law between ‘the end of the year and spring’.
He said the listening exercise had been a ‘remarkably effective exercise’ and the Health Bill is now ‘significantly better’ as a result.
He said: ‘You can’t proceed with a reform if you are not taking people with you. And it was very apparent at the time the listening exercise was announced that storm clouds were gathering over the reforms.
‘I think it was really important that we stopped, listened and tried to address the concerns.’
Mr Lamb said he will no longer be forced to quit as his personal fears around the GP commissioning plans have now been allayed.
He said: ‘My concern was specifically on the rush to impose GP commissioning whether GPs wanted it or not. I felt that must be addressed.
'Now there is no longer a reason for me to consider my position because these specific concerns have been addressed’.
He said the now there is a ‘clear settlement of where the reforms are going’ the health service must focus ‘ruthlessly’ on achieving the efficiency savings.