Government 'learned little' from Health Bill pause, says Labour

The government has 'learned little' from its listening exercise as it continues to 'rail road' the legislation through parliament, the Labour Party has said.

Mr Healey warned that the government is ‘railroading’ the Bill through parliament
Mr Healey warned that the government is ‘railroading’ the Bill through parliament

Shadow health secretary John Healey said the changes to the Health Bill had been a ‘political fix’ designed to ‘buy off’ the widespread opposition to the NHS reform plans.

He said the closer people look at the amended Health Bill ‘the less they will like the changes’ and ‘the more concerned they will become'.

But he warned that the government is ‘railroading’ the Bill through parliament, allowing little time for scrutiny of the changes. He also raised concerns that only 64 of the 299 clauses are being sent back to the House of Commons for further debate by MPs.

‘The government has only allowed 10 scrutiny sessions… which means there will be around seven minutes for each amendment for scrutiny,’ he said.

Mr Healey meanwhile said that the cost of reorganisation is likely to rise as a result of the changes to the Health Bill.

He said: ‘The government is introducing more bureaucracy, more complex decision making and more wasted cost.

‘Commissioning, which is currently being done by PCT, will soon be split with at least five bodies.’

He also warned that the government is unlikely to carry out a new impact assessment of the updated Bill, meaning the NHS is being asked to implement a ‘far reaching set of changes’ without knowing the costs or the wider implications.

He said ‘Far from removing confusion and uncertainty in the NHS about the plans for the future, the government with its announcements and amendments is making that confusion and uncertainty greater.’

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