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Health bill delayed until 'early next year'

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: The Government has delayed the publication of its health bill until early next year, meaning GPs will have to wait until January at the earliest to see Andrew Lansley's radical commissioning plans come before Parliament.

The bill was originally due to be published in October, with Mr Lansley having remained until recently publicly bullish about unveiling his radical blueprint for NHS reform before Christmas.

But the Department of Health confirmed today that the bill has been put back until the New Year, amid speculation that the Government is grappling with both technical details and political discontent from within its own ranks.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'The Department of Health received over 6,000 responses to the White Paper consultations and we have been giving them careful consideration. The Department's response will be published in December and will contain substantial further detail about the provisions to be included in the Health and Social Care Bill. The Bill itself will now follow in the new year. This will not affect the implementation timescale.'

Pulse understands that both Conservative and Liberal Democrats backbenchers are casting doubt on the logistics of the plans, with sources telling Pulse that as many as eight or nine coalition MPs could vote against the plans.

There is also speculation that the bill's passage may have been affected by Dr Clare Gerada's uncompromising entrance as RCGP chair, in which she has openly criticised key aspects of the white paper.

But one senior GP figure, who wished to remain anonymous, said he still expected the bill to through despite the delays.

‘I think we're talking about purely technical factors. It's simply about how fast you can take something along the rails,' he said.

The health bill will now not come before Parliament until January at the earliest The health bill will now not come before Parliament until January at the earliest Also on PulseToday

Read Pulse editor Richard Hoey's blog: 'Missing: one very radical health bill'

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