UK Politics

NHS reforms: David Cameron and Ed Miliband clash

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Media captionEd Miliband accused David Cameron of "wrecking our record on the NHS" during PMQ exchanges

Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of "threatening the fabric" of the NHS as the two men clashed over the government's proposed health reforms.

The Labour leader said the government was "wrecking" Labour's legacy and urged changes to plans to give GPs control over most NHS commissioning.

But Mr Cameron accused Labour of "setting its face" against changes needed to boost patient care.

Labour were opposing extra money for the NHS, the prime minister added.

The clash at Prime Minister's Questions came in the wake of the Lib Dems - Mr Cameron's coalition partners - calling for changes to the government's proposed re-organisation of the NHS at their Spring Conference and members of the British Medical Association (BMA) rejecting the plan.

'Free for all'

The Labour leader said the prime minister was unwilling to listen to criticism of the proposals - which will also see the abolition of Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities - and was "out of touch" with opinion on the NHS.

"He is threatening the fabric of the NHS," he told MPs. "This bill shows everything people don't like about the government. Broken promises, arrogance, incompetence, and ignoring people who know something about the health service."

The reforms meant the NHS would be "subject to EU competition law" in future, Mr Miliband suggested, arguing that the prime minister should explain to people "what this had to do with health care".

"What is his answer on the NHS? It is a bill which creates a free-market free-for-all and threatens existing NHS services."

Mr Cameron said there would be safeguards in the bill to stop price competition and "cherry picking" of NHS patients by the private sector - steps which he said Labour had failed to undertake while in government.

'Extra money'

The prime minister said Labour should not "set its face" against reform of the NHS and he accused the Labour leader of "reading a BMA press release" - arguing that the doctors' organisation had opposed a stream of major health reforms in recent years.

"They [Labour] were in favour of competition in their manifesto," he said. "All that has changed is just that they are jumping on every bandwagon, supporting every union and blocking every reform and opposing the extra money into the NHS."

Mr Cameron defended the reforms, saying the government was not "re-organising" bureaucracy but "abolishing" it in the interest of patient care.

"The fact is that we are not getting even the EU average on cancer outcomes, you are twice as likely to do of a heart attack here as you are in France, you have got an ageing population and more expensive treatments and their answer is to do absolutely nothing."

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