Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to the Health Secretary today, the Prime Minister’s Spokeswoman (PMS) said that the Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley spoke on a regular basis and they had spoken today.
Asked what was said and if they had spoken over the phone or met face-to-face, the PMS said that, as was usual, we would not go into that sort of detail.
Asked for more detail about the conversation between the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary, and if the Health Secretary had been sidelined, the PMS said that the Prime Minister fully backed Mr Lansley and the reforms we were looking to introduce. We had to make changes within the NHS and we had made clear what those changes would be. We had reached a natural pause following the committee stage and Mr Lansley would this afternoon set out the next steps. The Government had listened and would continue to listen to people and their views on the NHS reforms.
Asked if the Health Secretary would announce changes to the Bill or just changes in the way the Bill and the reforms would be presented to people, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had said on the record that we still had a job to do to convince people about the reforms. We thought those reforms were right as they put the decisions into the hands of GPs and others who had the best interests of the patient at heart. They would also deliver the modern NHS which people had come to expect, and which we would see through to the future.
Put that there had been reports from the NHS Confederation that staff who had taken early retirement last week could be asked back to work, the PMS said that she didn’t know the details of that particular story and referred the journalist to the Department of Health.
The PMS went on to say that at its heart were the doctors, nurses, clinicians and others who made the NHS tick. They were immensely important and we wanted to deliver a modern NHS.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that Oliver Letwin should apologise for comments about not wanting more people from Sheffield going on cheap holidays, the PMS said that they were alleged private comments and the Prime Minister thought that everyone should be able to go on holiday wherever they liked.