Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Wednesday, 26 October 2011 16:47 UK

Government defends NHS reforms from 'chaos' criticism

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been forced to defend plans to reform the NHS in England after Labour claimed the coalition's health policy was in "chaos".

Mr Lansley said the Health and Social Care Bill would put "clinicians at the heart of delivering care and patients at the heart of the service".

He urged MPs to reject Labour's motion calling on the government to ditch the bill, insisting the government was protecting the NHS and increasing health spending in real terms.

Mr Lansley was speaking during a Labour-led debate on the government's record on the NHS, on 26 October 2011.

Opening the Commons debate shadow health secretary Andy Burnham argued that it was "a catastrophic error of judgment to combine the biggest ever financial challenge in the NHS with the biggest ever reorganisation".

He also charged the government with breaking its three key coalition pledges on the health service: real terms increases in every year in this Parliament, no A&E and maternity closures and no top-down re-organisation of the NHS.

Mr Lansley said the only part of the UK that was cutting NHS budgets in real terms was Wales, where Labour runs the devolved government.

Mr Burnham, urging support for motion, warned the Commons: "If this bill passes, make no mistake, the NHS will never be the same again.

"It will unpick the fabric of a public national healthcare system, a planned system, and it will turn it into a free-for-all."

He repeated his offer to work with Mr Lansley to achieve greater involvement for GPs and other professionals in commissioning care if the legislation was abandoned. Mr Lansley dismissed this as a "transparent political ploy".

The opposition motion also stated that health spending fell in England in real terms in 2010-11. Mr Lansley said this was an "own goal" for the opposition because the government had followed Labour's financial plans for that year.

Labour forced its motion to a vote but it was rejected by 307 votes to 228, a majority of 79.

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