Further scrutiny of Health and Social Care Bill

June–September 2011

Following the NHS Future Forum reports, which conducted reviews on different topics relating to the controversial Health and Social Care Bill, and consulted widely during a pause in parliamentary scrutiny of the bill, a number of clauses in the Health and Social Care Bill were 're-committed' for further scrutiny by the public bill committee.

The second committee stage lasted for 12 sittings between 28 June–14 July 2011, during which 63 existing clauses, 8 new clauses and 6 schedules were considered, with 175 government amendments to the bill agreed. A further 715 amendments were required to change the name of GP consortia to clinical commissioning groups.

The bill completed the report stage in the Commons over two sittings on 6–7 September 2011. Speaking during the report stage, Andrew Lansley stated that: 'The intensity of debate and the brightness of the spotlight shone upon the bill have made it a better bill than when it was first laid before the House. I believe that it will set the NHS in England on a path of excellence, with empowered patients, clinical leadership and a relentless focus on quality... The bill will pave the way for even more progress towards the world-class NHS that patients want, which will be able to deliver results that are truly among the best in the world. I commend it to the House.'

Expressing his opposition to the bill, the then Shadow Health Secretary John Healey, speaking during the report stage, said: 'This government and this bill are giving health reform a bad name. The bill is unwanted and unnecessary. It is reckless to force through the biggest reorganisation in NHS history at the same time as finances are tight and pressures on the health service are growing. The big quality and efficiency challenges that the NHS must meet, and the changes that the NHS must make for the future, will be made harder and not easier because of the bill.'

Public health issues also started to receive additional attention, with particular concern about the role and independence of the director of public health once the function had moved from the NHS into local government. Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood called on the House of Lords to 'take up the theme of public health in another place'.

Third reading followed the report stage and, while the Opposition continued to express disagreement with many of the bill's clauses, the bill was finally able to proceed to the House of Lords.

On 7 September 2011, the Health and Social Care Bill cleared the House of Commons and was set to begin its passage through the House of Lords.


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