The US healthcare bill has passed the first crucial Senate test with reform of the country’s hospital network set to be in place before the end of the year.

The healthcare reform bill is expected to pass its final vote by Christmas with 60 Democrats voting in favour of President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority.

The bill details the biggest changes in the $2.5tr US healthcare system since the 1965 creation of the Medicare health programme for the elderly.

Once passed, the Senate version of the bill will have to be reconciled with the healthcare bill passed by the House of Representatives.