The Guardian reports:
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is to be forced by his Liberal Democrat coalition partners to rewrite controversial regulations that prompted Labour warnings of a backdoor privatisation of the NHS…
Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem health minister, raised concerns about the regulations amid fears of another rebellion at his party’s spring conference next month – one year after the last such conference voted against the health and social care bill.
“We are looking at this extremely seriously,” Lamb told his Lib Dem colleague Andrew George in the Commons. “Clear assurances were given in the other place during the passage of the legislation, and it is important that they are complied with in the regulations.”
It is understood that Lamb was referring to an assurance by Earl Howe, the health minister, given to peers on 6 March 2012, as the government fought to save the health bill days before the Lib Dem spring conference refused to endorse it. Howe said: “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets, particularly where competition would not be effective in driving high standards and value for patients.”
A source close to Hunt said the health secretary would sit down with Lib Dem peers opposed to the regulations. “We are aware that there are concerns over the wording and the way it may be interpreted,” the source said. “We are speaking to the Lib Dem peers to make sure they are happy. We want to make sure everyone is happy.”
You can read the full story here.