David Cameron should find the “humility” to admit his party’s proposals to reform England’s NHS are wrong, Wales’ first minister Carwyn Jones has said.
The prime minister is holding a Downing Street summit today to discuss his government’s shake-up of the NHS.
Critics say the proposed reforms are effectively privatisation of the health service by the back door - and prompted 142,000 people to sign an online petition calling for the Health and Social Care Bill to be scrapped.
Over the weekend, Mr Jones spoke about the issue during Welsh Labour’s two-day annual conference in Cardiff.
He promised market forces would stop at the border - unlike what was happening in England.
Mr Jones said: “If we ever needed proof we are taking the NHS in the right direction here in Wales, we only have to look at what is currently happening in England.
“What the Tories and their Lib Dem accomplices are doing to the NHS in England is ideologically driven.
“Why can’t they find within themselves the humility to say - ‘we got it wrong?’”
Although the health service is far from perfect in Wales, in recent weeks it has received plaudits from health organisations over proposals to drive up organ donation rates.
By next year, Welsh government ministers hope to change the system of opt-in, to one of presumed consent.
Mr Jones said his party would also be sticking to its manifesto pledge to protect the Welsh NHS from privatisation.
“Let me state for the avoidance of doubt I strongly believe in accessible, high-quality services for all - not choice for the few,” he added.
“Unlike the Tories, we will not dismantle the NHS.”
Following his speech, Mr Jones acknowledged the health service in Wales did have its own problems - but his government was committed to tackling them.
He said: “Historically there is a problem of recruiting doctors further West.
“But we have launched a recruitment campaign to recruit senior members of staff in Wales.”
And he said it was fair to draw comparisons between the English and Welsh health services - given that Mr Cameron had publicly criticised Wales’ NHS in the Commons recently.
Mr Jones added: “In England, the medical profession is against what is happening. We know that health reform is problematic, as we’ve seen in Wales.
“But I don’t believe what is being proposed in England will result in a cheaper system - it will be more expensive.
“And people won’t have a say in the way health service is delivered anymore.”