A Department of Health spokesperson comments on the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives' call to drop the health and social care bill outright:

"We're disappointed that these Royal Colleges have come to this position.

"During the course of the past 12 months we have been working with nursing groups to shape our plans for a modern NHS.

"For example, nurses will be represented on local clinical commissioning groups. Just two weeks ago, the prime minister set out plans welcomed by the RCN to get rid of red tape so that nurses have more time to spend with their patients.

"The RCN has conflated the health and social care bill with issues about the need for the NHS to spend its money more efficiently.

"The bill is needed to empower doctors, nurses, and other frontline healthcare workers across the NHS to take charge of improving care.

"We will continue to work with nurses and all other health professionals to ensure that the NHS delivers the best possible care for patients."