EAST Lancashire health chiefs, politicians and unions have welcomed the Government’s move to delay its NHS shake-up.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to put the Health and Social Care Bill on hold for up to three months.

The bill includes plans to transfer around 60 per cent of the NHS budget to GPs, scrap primary care trusts, appoint an independent NHS commissioning board and make it easier for private firms to win NHS contracts.

Sir Bill Taylor, NHS Blackburn with Darwen Care Trust Plus chairman, said that while he welcomed Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s principles of ‘bottom-up reorganisation’, there should have been more consultation.

He said: “Locally we have kind of ‘got on with it’, warts and all.

“But we do have concerns about patient safety and the patient’s voice.

“We will use this ‘deep breath’ opportunity to increase our assurance that the local circumstances best serve our people across Blackburn with Darwen.”

Pendle councillor Tony Greaves proposed a successful motion at the last Pendle Council meeting, which called on the Government to withdraw the bill or support its amendment.

The Liberal Democrat peer said: “I am glad that the Government is now starting to listen to the rising tide of concern.”

Health union UNISON said the plans should be ditched altogether.

Tim Ellis, East Lancashire UNISON organiser, said the ‘hugely bureaucratic and expensive’ bill would make health services subject to competition and privatisation, which would lead to ‘cherry picking’ of profitable services and the possible closure of remaining NHS services.

He said: “Our members who work on the front line of NHS services have long campaigned against the bill. They see the bill as fundamentally flawed and destructive to NHS provision.”