'Save the NHS' campaign from Labour
Labour has moved to place the health service at the centre of its general election campaign with a warning that the NHS would not survive in its current form under another five years of David Cameron.
In what is being described as a "start of the race" memorandum to activists, the party's election strategy chief Douglas Alexander will call for a four-month campaign to "save the NHS" in the run-up to polling day on May 7.
In online posters to be unveiled today, Labour will seek to highlight what it says are the Conservatives' broken promises on the NHS.
At the same time the party will publish a dossier claiming seven out of 15 patients' rights enshrined in the NHS constitution have been breached including those setting maximum waiting times of four hours at A&E, 62 days for cancer treatment, and six weeks for diagnostic tests.
It will claim that another five years of Tory-led government would mean waiting lists reaching four million, almost two million patients having to wait more than four hours at A&E, longer ambulance response times and 20 million people having to wait a week or longer for a GP appointment.
Mr Alexander said: "The Tories are already breaking half of the waiting time guarantees to patients enshrined in the NHS constitution, including on cancer and A&E.
"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."
In response to the Labour Party's dossier on the future of the NHS, Dr Mark Porter, British Medical Association council chairman, said: "We have repeatedly voiced our concerns that year-on-year reductions in real term NHS funding are continuing to threaten the quality of patient care and access to it.
"Equally, we believe that the changes to the NHS pursued by successive governments, such as increased privatisation and competition, are eroding the core principles of our healthcare system.
"Instead of focusing on delivering high-quality care for patients, the NHS is being damaged by distracting reorganisation and increasing transaction costs.
"The NHS needs more than party political promises to survive; it needs long-term, sustainable investment to ensure there are enough staff and resources to meet rising demand and provide the best quality care for our patients."