4 January 2015
Last updated at 04:46
Labour claims seven out of 15 patients’ rights in the NHS constitution have been breached
The NHS in England will be left “unrecognisable” if the Conservatives are in government after the general election, Labour has claimed.
In a “start of the race” note to activists, Labour’s election strategy chief Douglas Alexander calls for a campaign to “save” the health service.
The document claims waiting time rules have been breached and says there is a “staffing crisis” in the NHS.
Meanwhile, the Tories have targeted Labour over cutting the deficit.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Labour would spend an extra £13.5bn on debt interest because of a reluctance to cut spending as quickly as his party would.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, he said: “There is nothing caring about the risks Labour would take with the economy and all our futures.”
But Labour said the figures were based on “false assumptions and out-of-date economic forecasts”.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said general election campaigning was stepping up, with MPs returning to the House of Commons on Monday.
Labour will also launch a poster campaign – mimicking the Tories’ 2010 adverts – on Sunday
In the Labour document on the NHS, the party claimed seven of out 15 patients’ rights enshrined in the health service’s constitution have been breached.
They include maximum waiting times of four hours at accident and emergency, 62 days for cancer treatment, and six weeks for diagnostic tests.
The party also claimed it had become harder to book a doctor’s appointment.
It argued the problem could get worse if “service standards continue to decline” under a Conservative government, with waiting lists reaching four million.
Almost two million patients would need to wait more than four hours at AE, there would be longer ambulance response times and 20 million people would have to wait a week or longer for a GP appointment, the party warned.
Mr Alexander said: “A Tory second term would put us on course for ever-longer waits for patients because they have no plan to give the NHS the cash it needs and want to take public spending back to 1930s levels.
“And another five years of this rotten government could put us on course for a doubling of the scale of privatisation as competition is put before patient care.”
A Conservative spokesman disputed Labour’s figures and said Labour leader Ed Miliband’s lack of an economic plan “would put the entire NHS at risk.”
He added: “We can only have a strong NHS by staying on the road to a stronger economy.”