The Conservative government has a "secret plan" to privatise the NHS in England, Owen Smith will claim. The Labour leadership challenger will also accuse Jeremy Hunt of "covering up" the scale of the alleged privatisation because NHS spending on the private sector has increased from £4bn ($5.1bn, €4.6bn) to £8.7bn between 2009/10 and 2015/16.

"It is now clear that Theresa May has given Jeremy Hunt the green light to start privatising our health service," Smith will say.

"Within days of his reappointment as Health Secretary he had officials drawing up secret plans to privatise the NHS. Like many families across Britain my family is relying on the health service at this very moment.

"The NHS is our country's most valued institution – and people will be shocked to hear that the Tories have been putting together a secret plan to privatise it."

"We all rightly contribute to the NHS through our taxes – but we must make sure that money is spent on doctors and nurses, and not lining the pockets of private sector shareholders."

He will add: "As prime minister, I would call an immediate halt to Tory privatisation, set about scrapping the Tories damaging health reforms and make sure our NHS has the cash it so desperately needs – boasting spending by at least 4% every year."

The comments will make up part of a major speech from Smith on the NHS today (15 August), following a visit to Trafford General Hospital.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "This analysis is simply wrong – this Government was the first to ensure that doctors, not politicians, make decisions about who provides care. In fact, the rate of growth in use of the private sector as a proportion of the NHS budget remains slower than it was before 2010.

"We are committed to the values of the NHS and to delivering a safer seven day service. We are investing an extra £10bn a year by 2020 so the NHS can introduce its own plan for the future."

Corbyn tackles education issue

Smith's address will come after Jeremy Corbyn promised to create a National Education Service (NEC) over the weekend. The project will attempted to tackle the UK's productivity problem and enshrine the principle of education free for all at the point of use as official Labour policy.

"The NES will put good education at the centre of our society – opening up opportunities to everyone," Corbyn said.

"It will mean that children get a good start in life and for the rest of their lives will have their horizons opened and not be restricted in their choices by the education they can afford, rather than the education they have a passion for."

Key dates of the Labour leadership election

  • 18 July: Signing up as a registered supporter to vote in the election begins.
  • 19 - 20 July: Number of MP nominations for each candidate to be published.
  • 20 July: Deadline for people to sign up as a registered supporter closes.
  • 22 August: Ballot papers will begin to be sent out around the UK, but to Labour Party members only.
  • 21 September: Deadline for ballot papers to be returned is midday.
  • 24 September: The election result will be announced at a Leadership Conference in Liverpool.