So the fighting is over, now comes the reconciliation. David Cameron’s concessions on the health bill – giving more leeway on GP-led commissioning and changing the role of the medical regulator (Monitor) so it is no longer purely to promote competition – have made the breakthrough. Nick Clegg is willing to support the proposals and is telling his parliamentary party exactly that now.
There will be a statement next Tuesday by the NHS Future Forum on their views on what should happen to the service, but Cameron’s speech has made that less relevant: he has made the key achievement of winning back the Lib Dems. The FF’s statement will be followed quickly by a ministerial statement and the coalition government will then take the reforms forward together.
The question now is whether each can take their own parties with them. The obvious problems will come at the Liberal Democrat end – Cameron’s repeated references to competition on Tuesday show he is not completely rejecting the Lansley reforms, even though some Lib Dems will settle for nothing less.