The government should back down on its white paper reforms in response to “fierce criticism” from professional bodies, the shadow health secretary has said.

In a letter to the health secretary Andrew Lansley, shadow and former health secretary Andy Burnham has backed the British Medical Association’s critical response to the white paper consultation.

The letter says: “Your plans are completely unacceptable to us and if you proceed on the basis you have set out, we will launch a major campaign in every community.”

Mr Burnham proposes that the Liberating the NHS white paper be changed into a green paper to allow for “further engagement and development on a range of policy proposals”.

Following the BMA’s warning over the “implosion” of PCTs, Mr Burnham has asked Mr Lansley to delay their abolition in order to give the NHS “organisational stability” in a time of change.

The letter says: “I believe the lack of a population-wide commissioning body is a major flaw in your plans, and I would argue for the retention of PCTs or a similar statutory body in the NHS.”

A new shadow cabinet, which may include a new shadow health secretary, is due to be announced on 7 October. Mr Burham’s letter repeated his demand - made in his speech to the Labour Party conference on Wednesday - for the government to put its health plans on hold.

The Labour MP also suggests that the GP commissioning model should be piloted and for “evidence to be gathered to make the argument for national roll-out”.

“It would enable us to debate a major hole in your plans – the arrangements for specialised commissioning. I find it staggering that you have published a white paper that does not adequately address this critical area of the NHS.”

Read the letter in full



Andy Burnham's letter to Andrew Lansley