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Scrutiny phase brings chance of change to NHS reform bill

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d837 (Published 08 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d837
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Interested parties are hopeful that important changes to the government’s planned reforms of the NHS can be achieved now that the Health and Social Care Bill enters its next parliamentary phase before becoming law.

After a comfortable vote supporting it in the House of Commons on 31 January (BMJ 2011;342:d711, doi:10.1136/bmj.d711) the bill is due to be scrutinised by a newly appointed committee of 26 MPs.

The committee is made up of 11 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, 11 Labour MPs, and one Democratic Unionist Party MP. Members include Kevin Barron, the Labour MP for Rother Valley and former chairman of the health select committee, the current health ministers Simon Burns and Paul Burstow, and Daniel Poulter, the Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and an NHS doctor.

The committee stage is crucial as it allows all interested parties to submit written and oral evidence before the end of March and to propose amendments to the bill before it is debated again in the House of Commons in its third reading. The bill may become law as early as July this year or as late as spring 2012.

Several witnesses are due to appear before the committee on Tuesday 8 and Thursday 10 February. These include the NHS chief executive, David Nicholson; the BMA’s chairman of council, Hamish Meldrum; the chief executive of the healthcare think tank the King’s Fund, Chris Ham; and witnesses from the NHS Confederation, the representative body for most NHS organisations, the public sector unions Unison and Unite, the health think tank the Nuffield Trust, and the NHS Alliance, which represents primary …

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