House of Lords’ vote on health secretary’s responsibility for NHS services is delayed

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 04 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7171
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The issue of whether the health secretary is responsible for providing NHS services in England under the Health and Social Care Bill remained unresolved this week after amendments tabled in the House of Lords by two peers were withdrawn without a vote.

The health minister Earl Howe has agreed to further discussions to try to resolve what has proved a tricky political and constitutional issue. The bill seeks to delegate as much responsibility as possible to the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups, but its critics say that the health secretary must remain ultimately answerable. It will not be good enough, they argue, for him to stand up in parliament and declare that he takes no responsibility for decisions made.

Labour opponents …

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