Hinchliffe amendments could defuse embarrassing CHC abolition row

On perhaps the hardest-fought front opened up by the NHS plan, ministers look like settling for something akin to a reasonable compromise. As HSJ went to press, they appeared ready to accept amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill proposed by David Hinchliffe MP.

He has led much of the parliamentary resistance to community health council abolition. His amendments would go a significant way to safeguarding the independent nature of patient representation in the NHS, the point on which the plan's proposals seem weakest and on which CHCs most pride themselves.

Surprised at the ferocity of opposition to CHC abolition, the government may wisely seize this chance to get itself off an uncomfortable hook. Short of a total U-turn, or a way for CHCs to metamorphose painlessly into the new bodies - both politically impossible - this deal looks as good as CHCs will get. So two cheers for democracy.