Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

New calls for government to release risk register

The government has faced renewed calls from peers to release a confidential risk register on its NHS reform bill.

Shadow health minister Baroness Thornton, speaking at the outset of a sixth day in committee on the bill on 16 November 2011, urged the government to release the document.

"The information we are being denied could be very relevant to our current deliberations," Lady Thornton stressed.

Her appeal was echoed by Labour's former health minister Lord Warner and senior Liberal Democrat Baroness Williams of Crosby.

But the government signalled it could take up to 28 days to decide whether to appeal Information Commissioner Christopher Graham's ruling that it would be wrong for the report on risks presented by the Health and Social Care Bill to be kept under wraps.

Health minister Earl Howe added that publishing the report could set an undesirable precedent.

"Publication of departmental risk registers, were it to become routine under the Freedom of Information Act, would fundamentally affect the day to day working of government," he warned.

The minister added: "The government as a whole must therefore consider whether or not to appeal the Information Commissioner's ruling. Officially, we are allowed 28 days to do this."

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.

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