Con-Dem government Health Minister Norman Lamb was forced today into a "humiliating retreat" from crude plans to force through NHS privatisation inserted sneakily into new regulations for the service.
The apparent concession follows uproar over a clause that would have forced GPs, who are set to be handed control of NHS budgets, to put all services out to tender.
Even those who have backed the controversial plans to hand control to GP-led commissioning units opposed the regulations.
Mr Lamb suggested the wording of the clause was actually misleading and had "inadvertently" created confusion.
The Liberal Democrat told MPs the government would rewrite the new regulations, acknowledging that they had "generated significant concerns."
But shadow health minister Andy Burnham said the government's "policy on competition in the NHS is in utter chaos" after its privatisation plans had been exposed.
"The truth is they have been found out trying to sneak through the back-door privatisation proposals that his predecessors were forced to rule out to save their discredited Bill," he added.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the apparent U-turn as a "massive victory in the fight to save the NHS."
But he said that public health campaigners would need to stay vigilant in the fight to stop the sell-off of the NHS.
Unite said that the government had engaged in a previous "pause and listen" exercise during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill last year, when the public and healthcare professionals were promised no privatisation, but had reneged on its pledge after the Act was passed.
"David Cameron and the government's health team have broken so many NHS promises that the echo of them shattering is still ringing very loudly in our ears," said Mr McCluskey.