On his first day in his post as shadow health secretary last month, Andy Burnham pledged to work with the government to set up clinical commissioning in every locality in England.
But he said he has now received an ‘unbelievably petulant response’ from the health secretary Andrew Lansley who refused the offer.
Mr Lansley wrote back: ‘I have no inclination to accept your support for establishing "true clinician-led commissioning in every locality in England" when this is what you failed to do so spectacularly as secretary of state.
‘I do not believe you have the credibility to suggest ways the NHS can move forward today.’
Mr Burnham said this was the ‘rudest letter’ he has ever received, adding that he is ‘well used to Mr Lansley rudely breaking attempts of cross-party talks’.
But a source close to Mr Lansley said Mr Burnham was ‘exaggerating hugely’.
He said: ‘The letter simply set out how poor Burnham's record as health secretary was. Sometimes the truth hurts.’