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Lib Dems to renew battle over NHS reforms

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Rebel Liberal Democrat MPs are gearing up for a renewed battle over the government’s health reforms.

Reports over the weekend suggesting that ministers discussed allowing overseas companies to manage up to 20 hospital trusts are understood to have fuelled concerns that the reforms could lead to privatisation of the NHS “by the back door”.

The Daily Mail quoted Baroness Shirley Williams voicing “huge concerns” over the revised Health and Social Care Bill, set to be debated in Parliament tomorrow and Wednesday.

The paper also quoted “rebel leader” Andrew George saying the legislation would be “better trashed than passed”.

The Guardian said German company Helios had been been in talks to take over NHS hospitals.

It said Freedom of Information Act requests had revealed “a series of meetings focused on ‘potential opportunities in London’ between officials in the Department of Health, the NHS, the management consultant McKinsey and one of the largest German private hospital chains, Helios.”

It said that among Mr George’s proposed amendments to the bill were around a dozen moves that sought to roll back the “competition and choice” favoured by Mr Lansley.

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