The government was “exploring potential amendments” to the Health Bill with parliamentary lawyers before the report of the NHS Future Forum, health minister Simon Burns has admitted.

The Future Forum review group reported publicly on 13 June and the government announced it would accept the “core recommendations” on the following day.

Mr Burns said in response to a written question today: “Ministers were actively involved in the listening exercise talking to a wide range of patients, staff and stakeholders, as well as meeting with the Future Forum members.

“In addition, the Future Forum leads made a number of public statements during the listening exercise about the ideas coming out of the process.

“This enabled preparatory work to be undertaken in advance of the government’s response, including exploring potential amendments with parliamentary counsel. Final decisions about policy changes - and subsequent amendments - were made at Cabinet on 14 June.”

Mr Burns was responding to a question from Labour MP Ian Lucas.

Shadow health ministers were today pressing for the entire Health Bill to be sent back to a Commons bill committee for scrutiny. The government only plans to recommit certain clauses, and is hoping to complete the process quickly so the legislation can move into the Lords.

HSJ reported last week that ministers had been discussing changes to their plans before the Future Forum report.

The DH also denied in May that the government was planning to publish a second command paper, explaining how it would change its Health Bill. That document was published on Monday.