David Cameron denied claims by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) that the coalition had reneged on a pre-election pledge and insisted he wanted to “see an increase in midwives”.
RCM general secretary Cathy Warwick said the prime minister and his deputy, Nick Clegg, had both promised to create more midwifery posts when campaigning for their respective parties.
But she said discussions with health secretary Andrew Lansley had revealed the government was “clearly not prepared” to fulfil that commitment - even though the service was close to “cracking point”.
At Commons question time, Owen Smith, Labour MP for Pontypridd and a former BBC radio and television producer, asked Mr Cameron: “This morning you stand accused by the RCM of reneging on that promise - do you want to take this opportunity to differentiate yourself from your deputy’s attitude to such solemn promises and honour that pledge to midwives?”
Mr Cameron replied: “We do want to see an increase in midwives and unlike the party opposite we’re actually funding the health service in a way that makes that possible.
“The point is that your shadow chancellor [Alan Johnson], when asked about our pledge to increase funding in the health service, he said: ‘There is no logic, sense or rationality to it at all’.”
Mr Cameron added: “Now I know you used to work on the Today programme so let me give you a thought for the day: the health service is better off with our government.”