Liberal Democrat rebels deal Clegg a blow over controversial NHS reforms

Marion Dakers
NICK CLEGG failed to convince his party to give their full backing to the coalition’s controversial NHS reforms, with a vote at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Gateshead yesterday stopping short of whole-hearted support.

Lib Dem rebels managed to alter the party’s vote on the Health and Social Care Bill, removing a line that called for peers to back the reforms during its final stages in parliament.

However, a broader motion demanding that the coalition “kill the bill” failed to pass.

Clegg and party stalwart Shirley Williams tried to placate concerned Lib Dems with a letter outlining fresh changes to the bill last week, but the demands have not satisfied many in the party.

The reforms, which the coalition claims will give patients more choice and doctors more control, have also been slammed by numerous groups including the Royal College of GPs.

Clegg told the conference that the changes proposed by the Lib Dems had made the bill “better” and put “patients first”.