Newly appointed Labour shadow health secretary John Healey has targeted trust’s plans to cut accident and emergency, and maternity services in his first attack on the government.   

Mr Healey, who was appointed to the shadow cabinet on Friday, wasted little time in acting on his new health brief with a flying visit to the Royal College of GPs conference in Harrogate on Saturday and a letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley on Sunday.

In his letter, Mr Healey criticised the government for allowing 30 planned hospital service closures – listed in the Sunday Telegraph – to go ahead. He cited pre election pledges in the Conservative manifesto to “stop the forced closure of A&E and maternity wards”.

RCGP chair Steve Field said he had a “pleasant and productive discussion” with Mr Healey, and that he appeared to have a “good knowledge” of the main health issues.

Professor Field said he reminded Mr Healey that clinical leadership in commissioning had been a policy of the former Labour government but primary care trusts had failed to deliver on it.

Mr Healey, who has been MP for Wentworth and Dearne in Yorkshire since 1997, was a housing minister under Gordon Brown.

Newly elected MP for Leicester West and former director of the NHS Confederation’s ambulance service network Liz Kendall has been made shadow health minister, as have Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry and Widnes, Runcorn and Hale MP Derek Twigg.

Former Labour leadership hopeful and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbot has been also been appointed to the shadow health team with responsibility for public health.