Labour has failed to capitalise on the NHS row that has sparked squabbles among the Conservative Party over the summer.

Despite Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s describing the NHS as a “60-year-old mistake”, an ICM poll published in the Guardian gives the Tories a comfortable 16 point lead over Labour.

Conservative leader David Cameron publicly vilified the MEP over his sniping comments on US television and Labour had hoped to win back some support over the row.

But the welfare of the NHS is a particularly dividing subject in the poll, with 48 per cent of those asked saying it would be better under Cameron’s party but 41 per cent saying it would be worse off.

What will worry prime minister Gordon Brown’s party is that 24 per cent of the Labour supporters who were asked said the NHS would improve under the Conservatives.

Out of the 1,004 adults questioned, 41 per cent showed support for the Conservatives and 25 per cent for Labour.