Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Tuesday, 17 July 2012 11:18 UK

Labour vows to repeal NHS reforms

The government's reforms to the NHS in England have undermined the service and opened the door to privatisation, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said, pledging to reverse them if Labour forms the next government.

In an opposition-led debate on the NHS on 16 July 2012, Mr Burnham renewed his attacks on the Health and Social Care Act, which became law earlier this year having endured a tumultuous passage through Parliament.

Opening the debate, Mr Burnham said: "We will repeal the bill, it is a defective, sub-optimal piece of legislation that is saddling the NHS with a complicated mess.

"The gap between ministers' complacent statements and people's real experience of the NHS gets wider every week. They are in denial about the effects of their reorganisation in the real world, it is dangerous complacency and it can't be allowed to continue," he added.

But Health Minister Simon Burns said the changes to the NHS had benefited patients, accusing Labour of misrepresenting the changes and talking down the NHS.

Mr Burns said: "Far from the meltdown that some gleefully predicted, we have seen a robust and resilient NHS delivering better care for patients.

"Waiting times remain low and stable, in fact below where they were at the last general election."

Meanwhile Conservative MP and Health Committee chairman Stephen Dorrell noted: "The result of repealing the Health and Social Care Act would be to commit the health service to precisely the kind of re-disorganisation that [Mr Burnham] accuses the government of introducing," he said.

At the end of the debate, MPs rejected Labour's motion, which claimed that treatments and services are being rationed in the NHS and that actual government spending for 2011-12 fell by £26m, by 303 votes to 228, a government majority of 75.

The motion also asserted that the government's decision to reorganise has distracted its focus from the financial challenge, with seven out of 10 acute hospital trusts in England missing savings targets in the first half of 2011-12.

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