Downing Street has insisted Health Secretary Andrew Lansley continues to enjoy David Cameron’s full support in the face of mounting criticisms of his planned NHS reforms and mounting speculation about his future in the Cabinet.
Two prominent supporters of reform – Dr Charles Alessi and Dr Michael Dixon of the NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care – yesterday warned of flaws in the design of the planned changes. They voiced concerns that GPs would be “suffocated rather than liberated” by the new structure planned by Mr Lansley. Newspapers quoted an unnamed Downing Street source as saying that Mr Lansley “should be taken out and shot”.
It was even claimed there had been discussions within No 10 about ennobling Alan Milburn to allow the former Labour health secretary to take his place.
Asked about the reports, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister backs Andrew Lansley and he backs the reforms we are pushing through Parliament in order to deliver a better health service for the future.”
Mr Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill is expected to face a rough ride from peers when it returns to the House of Lords today, less than a week after the Royal College of GPs wrote to Mr Cameron calling for it to be scrapped,
It was announced last night that around £65bn will be made available to the groups of GPs who will replace existing NHS management structures if the Health Bill goes through.