Giving a statement to the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley said he recognised that some of the concerns surrounding the Health Bill were ‘genuine’.
The move follows speculation that David Cameron had stepped in to delay the Bill by up to three months, amid growing opposition against the reforms.
But Mr Lansley said the government would use the opportunity of a ‘natural break’ in the passage of the Bill to listen and engage with the profession and the public and bring forward amendments to ‘improve the plans’.
‘Modernisation of the NHS is necessary,' he said. 'It’s in patients’ interest and it’s the right thing to do to secure the NHS for future generations. Our desire is to move forward with support of doctors and others that work in the NHS.’
Mr Lansley said competition in the NHS ‘must be fair’ and that private companies would not be able to cherry-pick services and undermine NHS providers.
But shadow health secretary John Healey said doing things more slowly was ‘not the answer’.
‘Why didn’t the Tories tell people about the biggest reorganisation in NHS history before the elections?' he said. 'It’s the Prime Minister who is now breaking his promises on the NHS.’