UK Politics

Full steam ahead on NHS - Lansley

Image caption The government has indicated it is willing to make changes to its overhaul of the NHS

GPs have been urged to press ahead with the overhaul of the NHS in England by the health secretary.

Andrew Lansley also said ministers would seek to transfer powers early if groups of GPs were ready to take on the budget before the 2013 handover date.

The move comes after the government announced changes to its reform programme on Tuesday, but before any amendments have been made to the bill.

He said the pause had allowed the government to improve the plans.

The health secretary was speaking to an audience of GPs at a conference in London.

The plans have been effectively on hold for two months while an independent review was carried out, which recommended a series of concessions now accepted by the government.

'Anxious to press on'

But with that over he said it was now time to get going again.

"I know some of you have been frustrated by the pause and will be anxious to press on with your plans on the ground.

"But I hope you will see the importance of taking our time to get it right.

"And now, let me be absolutely clear, that there is absolutely nothing to stop you from pressing ahead."

Responsibility for the budget will be handed over to groups, led by GPs, but now including hospital doctors and nurses, in April 2013.

Any areas not ready will not have to take charge. In such cases the national board will step in.

But Mr Lansley also said that in cases where the commissioning groups were ready early ministers would look to "secure as much delegated responsibility as we can" before April 2013.

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