British Government Plans Major Health Care Reform

By Staff | January 17, 2011 | 7:26 AM EST

London (AP) - Prime Minister David Cameron says his government will make fundamental changes to Britain's state-run health care system -- but critics warn the reforms could undermine one of the country's most vital institutions.

Cameron says he will save money and cut red tape by giving control over management to family practitioners rather than bureaucrats.

He said Monday that standards of care in Britain have fallen behind other European countries.

Some doctors welcome the changes, but the British Medical Association claimed the scale of the reforms could cause chaos.

The health service is Britain's biggest employer, costs more than 100 billion pounds ($158 billion) a year -- and is a political football, reformed and criticized by governments since it was established in 1948.