Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Labour could win the election, but only if it offers a credible vision for the NHS.
In an exclusive interview with GP, the former health secretary repeated his promise to repeal the Health and Social Care Act in England.
He said the party would keep CCGs, but would ask them to work differently: 'I will remove the market – part three of the Bill – the competitive regime, and restore a collaborative NHS.'
Mr Burnham admits that Labour sometimes 'let the market in too much.' But he said the party had used the private sector principally to add capacity. 'We were dealing with a world where waiting lists were too long and needed to be able to bring in additional capacity quickly.'
|GP CONTRACT PLANS
From January, Labour will reveal how clinicians can help to shape its health policy.
'Political parties have made offers before, but I am trying to build a policy that has genuine professional engagement,' he said. 'We are going to make the NHS the big issue at the election.'
The MP for Leigh, Greater Manchester, called for an 'honest debate' on funding and would not promise Labour would increase the budget. He also refused to say whether Labour would have revisited its 2008 NHS pension reforms had it remained in office.
But he was critical of the government's approach. 'I have a problem with the way the government went about this, imposing a unilateral surcharge on people.'
Mr Burnham, who stood in the Labour leadership elections in 2010, backed the 'fantastic job' Ed Miliband has done in unifying the party.