Labour leader Ed Miliband promised today to repeal the Government's NHS reforms and restore the Health Secretary's legal duty to provide a comprehensive health service.
Last year's Health and Social Care Act stated that the Health Secretary had the responsibility to "promote" the delivery of health services in England, but removed a previous duty to "provide or secure the provision of services". Mr Miliband said the move was part of a "deliberate strategy" by Conservatives to allow them to deflect blame for any failings in the NHS on to doctors, hospital managers and commissioning groups.
Writing in the Daily Mirror, the Labour leader said the Government was operating an "ABC of blame" when anything went wrong - passing the buck to "Anyone But Cameron".
"The crisis in A&E? Blame the GPs. Ambulance queues doubled? It must be the fault of the local hospital. Rationing of vital treatments like cataract operations and hip replacements? It's a matter for your local commissioning group," said Mr Miliband. "This is the Government's ABC of blame - Anyone But Cameron."
Mr Miliband said there were "growing signs that our NHS is in deep distress", with lengthening waits at A&E, growing queues of ambulances outside and a worsening "postcode lottery" in services. But he said: "The response from David Cameron's Tory-led Government has been to shrug its shoulders and blame everybody else - doctors, nurses, even the NHS itself. This is no accident. It is a deliberate strategy by the Tories."
"When Labour created the NHS, in the face of austerity and Conservative opposition, we placed on the statute book a legal duty requiring national government to provide a comprehensive health service free at the point of delivery for all British citizens. It was a foundation stone of political accountability. And it was abolished by the very first line of David Cameron's Health Act last year."
Mr Miliband promised that, if Labour returned to power, "we would repeal David Cameron's Health Act and reinstate the Secretary of State's duty to provide a comprehensive health service".