The Royal College of Nursing has passed a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
An overwhelming 98.7% of nurses said they had no confidence in the minister’s ability to direct the reforms.
The unprecedented vote comes ahead of Mr Lansley’s appearance at the annual conference in Liverpool – where he will hold a 45-minute Q&A with nurses on the proposals.
He will be the first Health Secretary for eight years not to address the entire conference.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband has hit out at the proposals, saying “the answer to a bad bill is not to slow it down, but to junk it.”
He told a press conference: “These proposals leave enormous scope for unintended consequences and the erosion of national standards.
“I have never heard the Government explain what the effect of this transfer of power over charging to GPs will be, nor seek to defend it.
“The bill is a Pandora’s Box. The more people look at the detail, the more profound and worrying the implications appear to be for the NHS.”
“We know what a sham consultation this is when the Health Secretary will not even go and talk to nurses in the open about his bill.
“It’s no wonder he faces an unprecedented vote of no confidence.”
In a further blow to the Health Secretary, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine said funding problems in the NHS were already harming patient care.
Speaking to The Guardian, John Heyworth said: “The emergency care system is struggling to cope at the moment.
“Many departments spend their time firefighting because of the number of patients coming in, the limited number of emergency department staff and limited availability of beds.”
Both Mr Lansley and Prime Minister David Cameron have insisted swingeing cuts to public spending will not impact on frontline services.
But amid mounting criticism, the Government has said it will delay controversial reforms to the NHS to allow for further consultation.
The Health Secretary was criticised during the first day of the RCN conference.
Julian Newell, an A&E nurse from Sheffield, told the gathering: “I think it’s a shame Andrew Lansley does not have the guts to come up and face congress as a whole.
“I would rather us say, if you can’t face congress as a whole then we don’t want to meet with him.”
RCN chief executive Peter Carter said: “Andrew’s office has said what he would prefer is to come and speak to a smaller group, not to the whole of congress.”