New shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has offered to support clinical commissioning within existing PCT structures if the Government agrees to dump the health bill.
Mr Burnham, appointed last week after John Healey stepped down prior to Labour leader Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet reshuffle, made the offer in a letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley, in which he warned the bill was proving a ‘dangerous and damaging distraction' to the huge financial pressures facing the NHS.
Mr Burnham, who served as the previous health secretary under Gordon Brown, said if
Mr Lansley agreed to withdraw the bill, he was prepared to support the Government in implementing GP commissioning – which Labour had previously opposed.
‘This could be achieved by asking GPs and other clinicians to establish a representative commissioning team in each PCT area working within the existing statutory framework and preserving co-terminosity with local government,' he said.
His offer comes at a crunch time for the Government, with its hugely controversial bill set to face fierce scrutiny in the Lords this week.
Mr Burnham said: ‘This approach offers a way ahead that everybody could unite behind. It would bring much-needed stability.'