Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, commenting on NHS waiting lists, said:
"This move is a clear admission of failure by the Health Secretary.
"On his watch, NHS waiting lists are spiralling upwards, with a 48 per cent increase in patients who waited longer than 18 weeks.
"One of his first acts in office was to relax Labour's waiting time standards. We warned him that patients would pay the price and this is exactly what has happened.
"It's because of Andrew Lansley's failure to get a grip on waiting times that he's being forced to bring out these new rules today. He would do better instead to focus on bringing waiting times back down to the historic low that he inherited from Labour.
"Sadly, things will get even worse if he succeeds in abolishing Labour's cap on the amount of private work hospitals can do.
"This will take us straight back to bad old days of the Tory NHS, where patients are forced to choose between waiting longer or paying to go private."