Page last updated at 22:22 GMT, Tuesday, 11 October 2011 23:22 UK

NHS could be 'destroyed' by reforms, warns Lib Dem peer

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge has launched an attack on her party's support for the Health and Social Care Bill, which she argued could result in the "ultimate destruction" of the NHS.

Lady Tonge, who used to be a GP, indicated she would support Labour peer Lord Rea's bid to block the bill altogether. She said of the Liberal Democrats' role in advancing the legislation: "We should be ashamed of ourselves. I know I am."

Her comments came during second reading of the Health and Social Care Bill in the House of Lords on 11 October 2011.

Earlier that day, shadow health minister Baroness Thornton had made an open appeal to the Liberal Democrats to rebel against the coalition's proposals.

"The Liberal party was in at the birth of the NHS," said Lady Thornton. "Why put that legacy and history in such jeopardy?"

Crossbencher Lord Walton of Detchant - who is 89 years old and began practising medicine before the NHS was created - expressed his belief that the bill could be improved by being allowed to continue its passage through the Lords.

The House of Lords started earlier than usual and sat late into the night debating amendments which could hobble the bill.

In addition to Lord Rea's amendment to block the bill, crossbencher and former health minister Lord Owen has put forward an amendment to delay the reforms until April 2012.

The bill, which contains the government's health service reform plans in England, was recommitted to Parliament in July after the government made a series of changes following widespread anger among NHS professionals and patient groups.

The changes include adding hospital doctors and nurses to the new commissioning consortia - not just GPs, as proposed by the original bill - and scrapping an April 2013 deadline for the new boards to take over.

Watch part one of the Health and Social Care Bill from day one.

Watch part two of the Health and Social Care Bill from day one.

Watch part four of the Health and Social Care Bill from day one.


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