Health secretary Andrew Lansley heckled by protesters
Health secretary Andrew Lansley heckled by protesters

Health secretary Andrew Lansley came face to face with people protesting against the coalition government's proposed NHS reforms.

Lansley was cornered by an outspoken opponent of the changes, which many critics see as back-door privatisation of the NHS, as he made his way to a summit called by Prime Minister David Cameron.

One elderly woman stepped in front of Lansley and grilled him on the repercussions of the government's Health and Social Care Bill, which aims to streamline the service but has been widely derided by medical professionals.

"You can wait," she told Lansley, who attempted to smile politely. "You can wait like people are waiting for a bed right now and when it goes private we won't have any beds."

When Lansley responded that the changes would not lead to privatisation, but would improve waiting times, she became angrier, calling his statements "codswallop".

"Now I've had enough of you and Cameron," she added. "You lot have been privatising since 1979 - don't you lie to me."

Lansley eventually managed to skirt past the woman and enter the meeting, which had earlier prompted controversy by the marked absence of invitations to several medical bodies that had criticised the bill.

Cameron has announced that he remains "committed" to the bill, which has been branded a disaster by the Labour Party and appears to be fighting a rising tide of dissent.

He said there were "a few myths we need to bust" about the reforms, which he remains confident will "improve and enhance our NHS".