LONDON (Reuters) - Over 100 senior British medical professionals criticized Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government on Tuesday for their handling of the National Health Service (NHS), a major issue in the upcoming national election.
In an open letter to the left-leaning Guardian newspaper, they wrote: "Our verdict, as doctors working in and for the NHS, is that history will judge that this administration's record is characterized by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding, and destructive legislation."
With polls tied ahead of the May 7 vote, the main rival of Cameron's Conservatives, or Tories, the Labour Party greeted the letter, saying doctors were "deeply concerned about the direction of the NHS under David Cameron and the consequences for patients of another five years of Tory government."
Polls show center-left Labour are more trusted than the Conservatives on the NHS, and Labour leader Ed Miliband has built his campaign to become the next Prime Minister around presenting his party as the guardian of the free-at-the-point-of-use health system.
"We invite voters to consider carefully how the NHS has fared over the last five years, and to use their vote to ensure that the NHS in England is reinstated," the doctors said.
The letter, with signatories that include a former deputy chief medical officer, several emeritus professors and a retired director of public health, comes a week after more than 100 business leaders published a letter endorsing Cameron's economic policies and warning that a change in course could endanger an economic recovery.
A Conservative Party spokesman said the doctors' letter was evidence of a Labour plan to use the NHS as a "political football".
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)