Miliband escalates NHS attack

By Ian Dunt

Ed Miliband will step up his attack on the government's NHS reforms today with a pledge to make it a "defining issue" at the next election.

Coalition MPs have long suspected Mr Miliband will capitalise on the health and social care bill at election time, but his intervention today reflects a toughening up of the language Labour is prepared to deploy as it tries to kill the legislation off.

"Before he became prime minister, David Cameron concealed his plans for creeping privatisation of our National Health Service," Mr Miliband will tell nurses on a visit to the Royal Bolton Hospital in Bolton.

"So people didn't get a vote on these plans at the last election. But I give you my word that if he goes ahead, they will be a defining issue at the next."

The intervention comes as 150 paediatricians wrote to medical journal the Lancet saying NHS reorganisation puts children's health at risk.

Next week, Labour has called a parliamentary debate demanding the publication of the risk register, which outlines health risks to the population from the reforms.

The government has appealed an information commissioner ruling that it be published.