NICK Clegg proposed further changes to the Government’s health bill after meeting with Sheffield health professionals, the Deputy Prime Minister has revealed.
On a visit to his Sheffield Hallam constituency, the Lib Dem MP met a GP and staff at the Hallamshire Hospital.
The Deputy PM is now calling for amendments to the bill, which proposes a reorganisation of the NHS so GPs commission care from hospitals, to limit competition.
Labour are calling for the proposals to be dropped entirely – and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham held a ‘drop the bill’ rally at Mr Clegg’s Nether Green office.
Opponents fear the bill will open up the NHS to competition from private companies, leaving public hospitals to provide the most costly procedures.
Mr Clegg said he had been ‘listening carefully’ to health workers in his constituency.
“There have been a huge amount of misleading claims from Labour about the bill, particularly since they first allowed the NHS to enter into contracts with the private sector in 2006.
“The legislation will make it illegal for preference to be given to private sector health providers over the public sector and ensures a level playing field for the NHS.”
Mr Clegg said changes are needed to the structure of the NHS to make savings on management costs and help cope with an ageing population which will place more demands on services.
But shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “Mr Clegg and his MPs nodded the Bill through the Commons, denying concerns about competition, but the very nature of the amendments he seeks confirms what Labour has been saying all along: that this Bill will turn our NHS into a full-blown market.”