NHS Reform Bill: 100,000 Sign Petition Triggering Possible Commons Debate
More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government to abandon the Health and Social Care Bill.
In the latest sign of public opposition to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's beleaguered NHS reforms, the e-petition has been attracting signatures at a rate of more than 1,000 an hour.
By 10.30pm last night, it had received the support of 107,000 people and was continuing to grow. It will now be considered for debate in the Commons by the Backbench Business Committee.
The petition was tabled by GP Kailash Chand.
Despite anger from health professionals and patient groups - and private criticism of the bill by Tory Cabinet ministers - Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing ahead with the legislation.
But shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the petition's signatories had "sent a very clear message" that the Government should scrap the bill.
"They want him to listen and stop putting his political pride before the best interests of the NHS," he said.
"Mr Cameron wants to legislate to turn our NHS into a free market. He is being reminded in no uncertain terms that he does not have the public's permission to do this.
"Nobody voted for this reorganisation and Mr Cameron promised it would not happen."
He urged people to keep signing the petition, adding: "The 'Drop the Bill' call is turning into a deafening cry supported by patients, professions and even members of Mr Cameron's Cabinet. It is a fight we can and must win."
Downing Street on Monday dismissed suggestions that Mr Lansley should be sacked and insisted ministers were "fully behind" his NHS reforms.
Cameron is to launch a new offensive to sell the bill to the public. He said at the weekend he was "at one" with Mr Lansley and the legislation amid signs of deep unease with the bill among Tory Cabinet ministers and even Number 10 insiders.
Labour said yesterday that internal NHS risk reports warned of lower levels of safety and patient care under the proposed reforms.
Burnham said officials in London were warning of "preventable harm to children".
"You know something is seriously amiss when NHS London has identified a risk of 'preventable harm to children' but has been unable to reduce it," he said.
"That should surely be a sign that it's time to listen to the view of health professionals that it's safer to abandon the reorganisation than press on.