SpendingSecured Shadow Secretary of State for Health has just addressed the Cheltenham Spring Forum.  He set out a ten point healthcare plan – summarised by the acrostic S.A.V.E. O.U.R. N.H.S.

  1. Sustain NHS values: The Tories will continue to provide a healthcare service accessible to all and free at the point of use.  The reaffirmation of this commitment is a key reason why the Tories are level-pegging with Labour on the party trusted with the NHS, Mr Lansley said.  Labour had a 42% advantage in 1997.  28% in 2001 and 14% in 2005.  Recent polling also showed that GPs are back in the Tory fold.
  2. Access for all.  Conservatives will defend local services.
  3. Value for money.  Conservatives will dismantle bureaucracy and make competition work. Much more information will be provided so that consumers are empowered to choose between competing suppliers.
  4. Excellence for everyone. Britain does not compare well with other European nations.  Five year cancer survival rates remain, for example, among the worst in Europe. We are on par with Poland and Slovenia not Sweden and Germany. We are slowest in take up of new cancer treatments although we are European leaders in research. Conservatives will ensure Britain is judged by international comparisons.
  5. Over to the professionals [Mr L was having to work harder with the acronym at this point!]. Conservatives will trust clinical judgment and scrap most of Labour's targets.  There will be better workforce training and development.
  6. Unleash patient power.  There'll be an information revolution to that patients can see how different hospitals and NHS Trusts are performing.
  7. Respect for patients. As announced at the Birmingham Party Conference last year there'll be 45,000 more single room as the Conservatives progressively move towards the abolition of all mixed sex wards.
  8. National plan for prevention. A new government-wide focus on healthy living and wellbeing will improve health.  Health is about more than direct diet and exercise but also about housing and family structure.  The Conservatives' social reform agenda will improve the nation's health.  Mr Lansley will be titled the Secretary of State for Public Health.
  9. Have your say. There will be voice for patients as well as choice. A National Consumer Voice was outlined by Andrew Lansley after the Stafford healthcare disaster.
  10. Spending secured. This "last but not least" commitment is one of two absolute Tory commitments on spending. As well as maintaining real terms increases in NHS spending the Conservatives have also promised to move to the target of 0.7% of national income being spent on international development.

Tim Montgomerie

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