Drop in trust for David Cameron as NHS guardian

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Media captionDavid Cameron denies NHS policy 'disaster'

What we witnessed yesterday was not a humiliating U-turn. It was not a giant PR exercise. So, at least, says the prime minister. It was instead, he said, the rare sight of a government admitting it had got its plans wrong.

David Cameron has now accepted his critics' arguments that the prescription he and Nick Clegg originally wrote and persuaded their MPs to swallow would have sparked off an NHS revolution with competition between public, private and voluntary health providers driven by an aggressive new regulator.

Their new improved reformed reforms are, they insist, merely an evolution of New Labour's health service remedy - more choice, more competition and more private sector involvement but at a controlled pace.

The side effects of this policy accident are clear - a dramatic drop in trust in the prime minister as guardian of the NHS.

The long term prognosis for it is much harder to predict.

But remember the really bitter medicine has yet to take effect - the long term squeeze in health service finances.

The government will claim that its reforms will ease the inevitable pain.

Its critics - fewer today than they were before - will use any longer waiting list, any hospital closure, any problem to claim ministers made things worse - which is ironic since the authors of the original NHS reforms thought they were taking the politics out of the health service.