Health ministers write to Lords in last-ditch bid to save Health Bill

Health ministers have rushed out letters to members of the House of Lords in an eleventh-hour bid to prevent an amendment they fear could kill off the Health Bill.

Lord Howe warned: 'The house must have proper time to examine the Bill'

The Bill could fall if peers back plans for a House of Lords select committee to scrutinise its impact on the constitutional role of the health secretary, the DoH fears.

In a letter sent to all members of the House of Lords on the eve of crucial votes on the Bill, health minister Lord Howe warned: ‘The house must have proper time to examine the Bill, but the proposal put forward by Lord Owen could result in delay, which could well prove fatal to it.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley also wrote to Lord Hennessy to challenge fears about the Bill after the crossbench peer appeared on BBC radio’s Today programme.

Lord Howe wrote that the timetable set for the proposed select committee to report back could slip. He said this carried ‘grave implications for the government’s ability to achieve royal assent for the Bill by the end of the session’.

The Bill cannot be carried over into the next session of parliament, and as a result ‘the establishment of clinical commissioning groups would have to be very considerably delayed’.

Both Lord Howe’s letter and Mr Lansley’s rejected claims the Health Bill would diminish the responsibilities of the health secretary to provide a comprehensive NHS.

However, a briefing distributed to peers ahead of the debate by health policy academic Allyson Pollock, challenged this claim, warning that ‘despite retaining the wording with respect to the secretary of state’s principal duty to promote a comprehensive health service throughout England, the mechanisms whereby it can be given effect are radically weakened’.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

X-ray sign

Spike in TB cases prompts public health warning

Cases of TB in England have risen by 7% compared with last year, prompting a warning...

COVID-19 vaccine

GPs demand investigation as winter vaccine 'mismanagement' risks patient safety

GP leaders in England have demanded an investigation into 'mismanagement' of this...

Medical centre sign

GP 'engineering' fears as small practice contracts offered on branch-only basis

GP leaders have raised concerns over the 'engineering' of general practice after...

Close up of BMA official picket armband

SAS doctors in England to hold indicative ballot on strike action

Specialist, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors in England could join...

BMA sign

BMA to oppose expansion of physician associate roles amid safety concerns

Doctors' leaders will oppose government plans to expand use of physician associates...

Doctor strikes

Public strongly back talks and new pay offer to end doctor strikes

The general public believe the government should reopen talks to end doctor strikes...