Nick Clegg has claimed the listening exercise for NHS reforms was “not a gimmick” and said the government would make significant changes to legislation.

The deputy prime minister has been talking with patients to discuss concerns over the changes, while the architect of the shake-up, health secretary Andrew Lansley, will meet potential GP consortia.

The events are the first of a series of forums set up after the government declared a “pause” in the parliamentary passage of the legislation implementing the package amid fierce criticism.

Speaking at the forum held at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Mr Clegg admitted the coalition had not “successfully won the argument”.

“We haven’t yet persuaded enough people in the NHS and elsewhere that what we’re trying to do is good for the NHS,” he said.

“We’ve taken this unusual step to do precisely that. To stop, and to listen, and to learn.

“Let me stress this, it’s not a gimmick, it’s not a PR exercise. We will make changes, we’ll make significant and substantive changes to the legislation which at the moment is - if you like - suspended in the House of Commons in order to make sure that those who perhaps develop some very serious and legitimate doubts about some of the details of the plans feel that it’s now on the right track again and then we can move forward together.”