The government has just six months 'to save the NHS', Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, announced this week.

In a reference to the Labour Party's electoral claim that voters 'had 24 hours to save the NHS', Ms Hancock told the RCN Congress that the government had 'a little longer' than that - but 'not much'. She warned that any 'repeat of this winter's sorry tale of an NHS on its knees' would lead to a loss of faith in the NHS.

Ms Hancock launched a campaign - Turning Talk into Action - which urges members to take a 'partnership approach' and work with managers to tackle issues such as trolley waits.

Conservative leader William Hague told the congress that his party would match Labour's four-year spending plans.

He promised that 'under the next Conservative government, there will be no privatisation, no retreat to a core service, no compulsory health insurance.'