Government is 'far from out of the woods' over the NHS reforms

Nick Clegg’s ‘victory’ claims over the changes to the NHS reforms will do little to reassure those opposed to the controversial plans, says one healthcare comms professional.

Claiming NHS victory: Nick Clegg
Claiming NHS victory: Nick Clegg

The NHS Future Forum will unveil its recommendations for changes to the controversial health service shake-up today, following the Government's ‘listening exercise’ on the controversial plans.

In April the Government halted the parliamentary progress of the Health and Social Care Bill amid mounting criticism from academics, health unions and MPs.

Later today, the deputy PM is expected to tell MPs: ‘We have achieved all we set out to achieve. It's a job well done.’

The Liberal Democrats have looked to highlight the party's role in pushing for the reforms. The party’s deputy head of media Phil Reilly tweeted this morning: ‘Every major paper has some version of "Lib Dem victory over NHS reforms" story today.’

But Mike Birtwistle, head of MHP's health practice, said that ‘the battle is on to claim victory’.

Birtwistle’s comments echoed reports this weekend that suggested a power struggle within Government over who is due credit for the latest changes to the plans. According to The Independent this weekend, one Tory MP was quoted as saying: ‘If the snivelling Lib Dems think they are going to take all the applause on this, they can think again.’

Birtwistle said: ‘The battle is on to claim victory, although in truth this is probably because both Cameron and Clegg feel sheepish about their role in signing off and then failing to communicate the reforms before the listening exercise.'

He added: ‘Both coalition partners are far from out of the woods on health. For the Conservatives, the salience of health with the public has increased massively, which is not good news for a party that has historically lagged in the polls on the NHS.

 ‘Nick Clegg’s "scorecard" will do little to reassure those who are instinctively opposed to the reforms.’

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