The Department of Health insists ministers "can and do grip" the NHS system when they need to.
Conservative public health minister Jane Ellison was recorded at a private meeting saying the reforms had given away control of the NHS- a claim Labour used to accuse ministers of "washing their hands of responsibility" for the health service.
A Department of Heath spokesman said:
Giving operational control for the day-to-day running of services to doctors was the right decision - but we have always been clear that ministers are responsible for the NHS, and we are proud of its performance in challenging circumstances.
More top news
The owner of a dog who was rescued from England's highest mountain is being sought by an animal welfare charity.
A vicar who was diagnosed with HIV after being attacked two years ago has created a powerful video to share her story with her congregation.
A man miraculously survived being shot near his home with a sawn-off shotgun when his mobile phone took the brunt of the blast.