By politics.co.uk staff

Waiting lists in the NHS are already increasing just one year into coalition government, Iain Duncan Smith has admitted.

The embarrassing gaffe prompted Labour to launch a blistering attack on the work and pensions secretary, saying he had inadvertently “admitted the truth”.

“Waiting times have already increased since last year and maternity services at Queens and Whipps are already struggling to cope,” Mr Duncan Smith told the Evening Standard, as he campaigned against the closure of his own local hospital.

“Patients in my constituency will really suffer if this closure goes ahead and we must prevent it.”

Shadow health minister John Healey said: “This is the first admission from the Tory-led Government that the NHS is starting to go backwards under the Tories.

“Patients are starting to see waiting times rise, frontline NHS jobs go and services cut back.

“This is not what people expected when David Cameron promised to protect the NHS.”

The outburst came on the same day that a confidential Department of Health memo revealed that the listening exercise on NHS reforms had many no-go areas, including the establishment of GPs’ consortia.