Labour leader Ed Miliband will today accuse the government of acting like “the masters, not the servants” of the NHS.
Seeking to capitalise on the coalition’s fraught relations with NHS workers, Mr Miliband will hail nurses as “the defenders of the health service”.
In a speech to the Royal College of Nursing in Harrogate, he will say Labour wants to work with professionals and patients to hold the government to account for its NHS reforms.
After health secretary Andrew Lansley greeted with scepticism by the RCN conference yesterday, Mr Miliband will say ministers had refused to listen to legitimate concerns.
He will announce a Labour initiative, NHS Check, allowing NHS staff and patients to report on problems faced by hospitals, clinics and family doctors arising from Mr Lansley’s shake-up.
He will urge NHS health and wellbeing boards - which will have strategic oversight of local commissioning - to resist new charges for treatment and ensure patients come before profits.
“The government have been acting like they are the masters, not the servants, of the NHS. They are not the masters. Not this government. Not any government,” he will say.
“Our health service is owned by patients, professionals and the people. And their voice - your voice - deserves to be heard.
“I can’t promise that we will always agree about everything. But what I will never do is what this government did: dismiss you as just a ‘vested interest’. You are not. You are the defenders of the health service.”
Mr Miliband will say he wants to “forge a partnership” with the RCN to address the long-term challenges facing the NHS.
“I want to start working with you now to protect the values of the NHS and to hold the government to account for what’s going on,” he will say.
“You are not just on the frontline in our NHS. You are the first line in the defence of our NHS.”