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Burnham fights the Health Bill

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Independent Nurse's interview with shadow health secretary Andy Burnham takes place in his Westminster office, in the depths of Portcullis House, on a day of debate in the House of Lords over the Health and Social Care Bill.

It is the Committee stage of the process; the Lords passed the bill at its second reading, and it is clearly a source of frustration to Mr Burnham that he has returned to a health brief quite so late in the legislative process.

Return to health brief
Having served a year as secretary of state for health in the final throws of Gordon Brown's government, he spent the first year of Ed Miliband's Labour party leadership as shadow education secretary - a job he enjoyed, but which never engaged him as much as health.

'I'm definitely back where my heart lies,' he says. 'I didn't want to be watching from the sidelines as these massive questions about the future of the NHS were discussed.'

Mr Burnham confesses to having felt 'a little disappointment' about his move to education but adds that he understood the reasoning behind the decision. 'Straight out of government, Ed (Miliband) felt it wasn't healthy for people to be clinging on to their old government jobs,' he says. 'There needed to be a period of fresh thinking.'

However, the coalition government's dramatic overhaul of the NHS is not the fresh thinking Mr Burnham had in mind.


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