By Ray Fleming

AT Prime Minister's Questions yesterday David Cameron made very clear that he will not retreat on the government's National Health Service reforms which are under extensive criticism from virtually all ranks of the NHS itself as well as from knowledgeable outside experts. It was also clear that the prime minister is deaf to calls from many quarters for the resignation of the Health Minister Andrew Lansley whose Health and Social Care Bill faced the first day of its examination by the House of Lords yesterday where more than one thousand amendments to it have been tabled. Support for the Bill has been a trickle compared to the torrent of opinion against it.

Ed Miliband was effective in the House of Commons when accusing Mr Cameron of “knowing better than the nurses, doctors, midwives and patients who serve and depend on the NHS and have made clear their concern over the damage that the new proposals will do.” Another voice yesterday was that of Alan Milburn, the respected former Labour Health Minister who called the Bill “a patchwork quilt of complexity, compromise and confusion. It is incapable of giving the NHS the clarity and direction it needs.” Mr Cameron deserves credit for his unequivocal defence of this Bill and of the minister responsible for it. But he has put his reputation on the line in no uncertain way.