This site is intended for health professionals only

Lib Dems to hold crunch vote on health bill

Liberal Democrat activists face a crucial vote this weekend over whether to back the Government's controversial health bill, or call for it to be scrapped.

An emergency motion has been submitted to the Liberal Democrats' spring conference, to be held in Gateshead, by retired GP Dr Charles West saying the bill is ‘so deeply flawed that it is not possible to make it fit for purpose through amendment'.

The motion calls on the conference to ‘exclude further unnecessary and disruptive top-down reorganisation' and for ‘all Liberal Democrats to work together to achieve the withdrawal or defeat of this flawed and unpopular bill and ensure that future reform builds on those elements of the bill introduced by our parliamentarians that have gained wide support.'

Another emergency motion, associated with respected peer Dame Shirley Williams, calls for the party to support the amended health bill.

Party members will vote on Saturday morning to determine whether either of the emergency motions are debated, and Dr West said that if his motion is passed by the conference it would put the Liberal Democrat party leadership in a difficult position.

He said: ‘The leadership could then choose to ignore it in the House of Commons. But if they chose to ignore the party and support what would be seen as the break-up of the NHS, they would then face an uphill battle to regain the support of the wider party.'

Former Liberal Democrat MP, and doctor, Dr Evan Harris, told Pulse said that although he was not a sponsor of Dr West's motion he supported its aims and he would speak in support if the motion was chosen for debate.