Anyone who thinks the Tories are the party of the NHS is “living on another planet”, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has claimed.

He was commenting on yesterday’s speech by Conservative Party leader David Cameron, which stressed the party’s commitment to the NHS.

The speech followed criticism of the NHS by Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who appeared on US television as part of the debate on reform of the US healthcare system.

Speaking in Bolton, Mr Cameron had said: “In America today, there is a real debate going on about healthcare. But here in Britain, the recent political exchanges over the NHS have neither been real, nor a debate.”

“Not real, because they have focused on a question that is now settled: the Conservative Party’s commitment to the NHS,” he added.

But he said the NHS needed to be reformed. This would involve choice, competition, and a focus on “outcomes not targets,” Mr Cameron said.

Under the Tories there would also be a renewed emphasis on public health, he added.

Mr Prentis responded: “Anyone who thinks that the Tories are the party of the NHS is living on another planet.

“David Cameron may have respect for the NHS, but the events of the past week have shown that the Tories do not support the NHS,” he said.

“And no amount of back pedalling from Cameron will now convince people that it has their full backing,” he added.