Exclusive: Lansley must see through NHS reforms

Health secretary Andrew Lansley should not be forced out even if his Health Bill is altered after the listening exercise, according to a leading Tory tipped to replace him.

Mr Dorrell: PCT abolition 'oversold'
Mr Dorrell: PCT abolition 'oversold'

Speaking exclusively to GP, House of Commons health select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell (Con, Charnwood) said Mr Lansley remained the best man for the job.

Mr Dorrell, health secretary under John Major from 1995 to 1997, denied the NHS reforms had been poorly managed and said it was unlikely the government would bow to pressure to withdraw the Bill.

Mr Dorrell said Mr Lansley had had a 'rough ride' with the NHS reforms, but sacking him would cause more disruption.

'Andrew knows the health service best and has dedicated a long period of his own life to understanding the processes of the health service,' he said.

'In terms of properly planned implementation, nobody is better equipped than Andrew. He has got the skill sets and knowledge to carry this out.'

Mr Dorrell said the reforms had not been poorly managed. But he admitted that change started happening on the ground before the Bill became law because the government 'slightly oversold' the news that PCTs were to be abolished.

'The White Paper and then the Health Bill clearly proposed that PCTs would be abolished,' he said. 'People working in those parts of the system started looking at their own future.'

Meanwhile, Mr Dorrell said it was unlikely the government would bow to pressure from the BMA, unions and Labour MPs by withdrawing the Health Bill.

'It would not be a sensible thing to do,' he said.

'Everybody acknowledges that there has to be change and we have to get that change right. Having embarked on the legislative process I'm not in favour of cutting it short.'

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