Cameron: NHS Reform Isn't Easy But It Is Vital

PA/ The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 20/02/2012 13:46 GMT Updated: 20/02/2012 14:49 GMT

David Cameron has insisted he's "committed" to pushing through the Government's reforms to the NHS, after meeting healthcare professionals in Downing Street.

The meeting sparked controversy after a string of prominent health bodies - including eight royal colleges - which have criticised the Health and Social Care Bill revealed that they had not been invited. The decision to exclude critical voices from the summit was attacked by Lord Owen, a senior Lib Dem peer, who described the decision as "reprehensible".

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was confronted as he arrived at Downing Street by angry protesters who accused him of trying to privatise the NHS. One protester described the NHS reform as 'codswallop'.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Government of adopting a "bunker mentality" to reforms, calling on the PM to dump the Bill and convene new talks on the future of the NHS bringing together all sides of the debate.

Speaking as the meeting ended, Mr Cameron said that there were "a few myths we need to bust" about the planned reforms.
He insisted he would not be blown off course: "I am committed to the changes and committed to taking them through.

"We need to do everything we can to explain to people that this is about improving and enhancing our NHS, not in any way endangering it."

Asked if the heckling of Mr Lansley as he arrived at Downing Street for the talks was proof of the level of hostility to the reforms, the Prime Minister said: "Reform is never easy, but it is vital to reform our NHS because I want it to be there looking after every family in the country and doing a good job into the future.

"We had a constructive and helpful meeting and what's clear is that there are quite a few myths that we need to bust about this reform.

"Choice for patients is a good thing: making sure that GPs, not bureaucrats, are making decisions, that's a good thing.

"So there are myths we need to bust, but I also heard how, on the ground, where some of the reforms are already taking place, you are actually seeing better health outcomes, GPs doing more things for their patients, people living healthier lives as a result of these changes."

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