UK Politics

Cameron and Miliband clash over NHS bill

David Cameron and Labour's Ed Miliband have clashed over the government's plans to overhaul the NHS in England as the Lords prepare to debate them again.

In the Commons, Mr Miliband said it was hard to keep track of opposition to the health bill for England as every week more professional groups opposed it.

He said the prime minister had lost the confidence of GPs he wanted to be at the heart of his reforms.

But Mr Cameron accused Mr Miliband of taking an "opportunistic position".

If passed, the Health and Social Care Bill would give GPs control of much of the NHS budget and open up the health service to greater competition from the private and voluntary sector.

It has completed its Commons stages but is having a difficult passage through the House of Lords, which has tabled a number of amendments, and is being opposed by several groups representing medical professionals.

'Imposed'

Labour opposes the bill and several Liberal Democrats have raised objections.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Miliband said that, in the last week, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatrics Society and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health had withdrawn their support.

He accused MPs who support the bill of "digging their own burial" at the next general election.

He also argued that changes had been "imposed" on GPs.

But Mr Cameron defended the bill, saying there were 8,200 GP practices covering 95% of the country implementing the health reforms, which was "what they want to see happen".

He added that, of the 44,000 members of the Royal College of GPs, just 7% had responded opposing the bill, and of the 50,000 Royal College of Physiotherapists members, that figure was 2%.

To laughter from the benches, he said: "I know that's enough for the unions to elect you leader of the Labour party but that's about as far as it will go."

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