David Cameron has been accused of being “arrogant” for pushing ahead with plans for one of the biggest shake-ups in the NHS’s history despite opposition from health experts and unions.
The publication of the Health and Social Care Bill prompted a fierce exchange in the House of Commons, with Labour leader Ed Miliband saying patients feared waiting times for operations would go up.
Under the plans, all 151 of England’s primary care trusts (PCTs) will be abolished, along with 10 strategic health authorities (SHAs).
GPs will be given around 80% of the NHS budget – currently topping £100 billion a year – to commission services for patients.
A new NHS commissioning board will oversee this process and new “health and well-being” boards will bring together NHS, public health and social care leaders.
Some 24,500 jobs in PCTs and SHAs are expected to be lost, with the redundancy bill put at £1 billion.
However, it emerged that up to 70% of staff could find themselves employed in the new structure.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Miliband said patients were worried about the changes, including waiting times.
He asked Mr Cameron: “Doctors and nurses say your reforms are extremely risky and potentially disastrous.
“Why are you so arrogant to think you are right and all of the people who say you are wrong are wrong?”