The government’s own monthly waiting times statistics showed patients are “paying the price” for the coalition’s NHS shake-up, Labour has claimed.

According to Department of Health records, the median waiting time in February for admitted patients was 8.7 weeks, up from 8.4 weeks when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took power.

The government pointed to figures showing the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks to start their treatment was down by more than 100,000, a 37 per cent reduction.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “These figures are a huge embarrassment for a prime minister who promised to keep NHS waiting times low. On his own test, he is failing patients and the public.

“David Cameron personally promised to protect the NHS but he is leaving patients waiting longer in pain and discomfort.

“On his watch, the NHS is heading straight back to the bad old days of the last Tory government when people had to wait or pay to go private.

“Mr Cameron’s plan to let NHS hospitals devote more beds to private patients will only make matters worse, with NHS patients pushed even further to the back of the queue.

“On the prime minister’s preferred measurement of average waiting times, the figure was 8.4 weeks in May 2010 and on today’s figures is 8.7 weeks.

“Patients are paying the price for David Cameron’s disastrous decision to reorganise the NHS at a time of financial stress.”