'We screwed up' over NHS, says new health minister Anna Soubry
A NEWLY-PROMOTED health minister and Notts MP has claimed the Government "screwed up" its handling of its controversial NHS reforms.
Anna Soubry made the remark, which was reported in a national newspaper, days after her appointment in the reshuffle during a private question-and-answer session at a NHS Leadership conference .
Asked about the way the coalition had dealt with medical professionals and the Royal Colleges over the reforms, which put more power in the hands of GPs, Ms Soubry reportedly said: "We screwed up."
Amid intense opposition, ministers last year "paused" the legislation before further consultation resulting in a series of changes to the Bill.
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Andrew Lansley, who came up with the reforms and guided them through Parliament as health secretary, was moved to Leader of the Commons in the reshuffle.
Yesterday, Ms Soubry said she had "always been very supportive of the reforms" and that anyone suggesting otherwise was taking her remark out of context.
It is the second time in a week that she has attracted attention for her outspokenness after she described the laws on assisted dying as "ridiculous" and "appalling".
In a statement, Ms Soubry said everybody knew the NHS "needs to change".
"I have always been very supportive of the reforms, and anyone suggesting otherwise is taking my comments out of context. As we have acknowledged, we could have done more when the plans were set out initially to explain the benefits for patients, and encourage the support of health professionals," she said. "That is exactly why we took the rare step last year of pausing the legislation and holding a listening exercise."
Peter Holden, Nottingham's representative for the British Medical Association, did not want to make a personal comment on Ms Soubry's remarks.
But he said: "I think the Government is setting GPs up to fail. We need to make some major savings, and no real decisions are being made by people at the top, and that is not how you run a £120 billion operation.
"I think the Government will say we gave the hospitals a go at running the NHS then management had a go, and now they're trying GPs, and when it doesn't work they will look to privatise it."
But shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: "This Tory-led Government is completely out of touch if they think the only problem with their NHS plans is one of presentation.
"The Government rammed through its wasteful £3 billion re-organisation in the face of overwhelming public and professional opposition – these comments will do nothing for patients suffering because of the chaos David Cameron has created in the NHS."