The Government's NHS reform Bill has been dismissed as "unneccessary" and "a mess" by a former chief executive of the health service.
Lord Crisp, who ran the NHS between 2000 and 2006, said the Health and Social Care Bill was "confused and confusing" and "misses the point". "I think it's unfortunately setting the NHS back," he told the BBC, further undermining the Government's plans as they go back before the House of Lords today.
Ed Miliband has appealed to Liberal Democrat peers to rebel and vote against the Bill, which has become the most contentious item in the legislative programme.
Liberal Democrat peers have tabled a series of proposed changes to the Bill for today's debate and Tim Farron, the party's president, has urged that all new elements of competition within the NHS should be stripped out of the legislation.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, says competition will improve the quality of healthcare while abolishing primary care trusts will cut bureaucracy. But, writing in yesterday's Sunday Mirror, Mr Miliband claimed the proposals would "distract staff who will have to cope with huge organisational change and will put profits before patients and bring in creeping privatisation".
But the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, Simon Hughes, denied the proposals threatened the NHS. "You will see a Bill that will protect and defend the NHS," he told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme.
The bodies that speak for doctors, nurses, midwives, psychiatrists, paediatricians and radiologists have all declared their opposition.
A letter today in The Independent signed by the elected members of Healthwatch, which advises the Government on the quality of care in the NHS, warns the proposed changes could take away its independence.