Private medical insurance providers have reacted angrily this week to a speech made by David Cameron on the future of the NHS.

The new Tory leader has back-tracked on the party's old policy that placed more emphasis on private healthcare in providing for the nation's health.

Cameron said: "Some people...want me to promise that under the Conservatives the NHS will be transformed beyond recognition into a system based on medical insurance. I will never go down that route."

Duncan Innes, head of public policy at Bupa, said: "It is frustrating that Cameron didn't put forward a coherent solution to under-funding. Insurance is an effective way for people to cover their risks and that wasn't recognised."

Charlie McEwan, of medical insurer WPA, said: "There were some serious holes in the Conservatives' proposals. The solution cannot always be to throw more money at the NHS. Insurance has a real role to play."

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