Anna Soubry, a new health minister appointed earlier this month said the government “screwed up” its presentation of the controversial reforms to the NHS in England.
The minister made the comment during a private session at a health conference, just days after taking up her new ministerial post. However, in a written statement released by the Department of Health, the minister denied being opposed to the changes themselves. She said “I have always been very supportive of the reforms, and anyone suggesting otherwise is taking my comments out of context”. She explained her initial comments saying “We could have done more when the plans were set out initially to explain the benefits for patients, and encourage the support of health professionals. That is exactly why we took the rare step last year of pausing the legislation and holding a listening exercise.”
Anna Soubry was a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the former Health Minister Simon Burns at the time the NHS changes were going through Parliament.
Responding to the minister’s comments, Labour’s shadow health minister Jamie Reed accused the government of being “completely out of touch if they think the only problem with their NHS plans is one of presentation”. He said “the government rammed through its wasteful £3bn re-organisation in the face of overwhelming public and professional opposition – these comments will do nothing for patients suffering because of the chaos David Cameron has created in the NHS“.
The minister has also made comments a few days after getting the position saying it was absurd that assisted suicide is illegal in the UK. She said it was “ridiculous and appalling” that Britons had to “go abroad to end their life“.
The Department of Health later said the views were Ms Soubry’s own, and the Ministry of Justice said there were no plans for the government to change the law.