The Health Bill's passage through Parliament took another step forward last week when the House of Lords backed away from confrontation with the Commons and agreed a swathe of MPs' amendments.

Among changes now agreed by both houses are powers for the Commission for Health Improvement and the Audit Commission to work on joint reviews, and a right for the health service commissioner to pass on concerns about clinicians.

Ministers with responsibility for the health service in Northern Ireland, and for other publicly funded healthcare providers, will also be able to buy in CHI's services.

Conservative and cross-bench peers, who had earlier defeated the government in an attempt to bring the private sector within CHI's remit, failed to hold the line.

And the Lords backed a Commons amendment - seen as a government climbdown - that gives primary care groups a stronger role in the decision over whether they become primary care trusts.

Arguing that an earlier Lords amendment would have given PCGs 'a statutory right of veto over the views of all other local stakeholders', health minister Baroness Hayman backed MPs' move to overrule the upper house.

But she promised that the views of professional and consumer groups would be 'key' when the health secretary decided on PCTs.

The much-delayed public health white paper, leaked to HSJ three weeks ago, is expected to be launched on Thursday.

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