Cameron puts NHS pledge at heart of conference address

Conservative leader will argue Labour can't be trusted with the NHS because they can't be trusted with the economy

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron will put his personal support for the NHS at the heart of his pitch for a second term in office today - with a pledge to protect health spending if the Conservatives are re-elected.

In his speech to the party conference in Birmingham, the Tory leader will announce a manifest commitment to increase NHS spending each year at least in line with inflation.

Mr Cameron made a similar promise before the 2010 election, and has frequently pointed out that Labour had announced plans to cut NHS funding if it won in 2010.

However, Labour is set to make plans to increase NHS spending by £2.5bn a centre piece of its election campaign in 2015.

The cash, which Labour says would pay for 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs, would come from the introduction of a “mansion tax” on properties worth more than £2m, and fees on tobacco companies, according to Labour.

Polls show Labour is more trusted than the Conservatives to protect the health service.

Mr Cameron will attempt to neutralise Labour’s advantage on the NHS by stressing that continued investment in the health service depends on a strong economy - an issue where Labour is perceived as weak.

He will highlight increases in NHS spending under this government, saying: “All this is only possible because we have managed our economy responsibly.

“That is why I can tell you this: we will do it again.

“The next Conservative Government will protect the NHS budget and continue to invest more.

“Because we know this truth - something Labour will never understand and we will never forget - you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy.”

The Prime Minister will also stress that the job of building a strong economy has not been completed.

He will say his ambition is to create a country which offers “the chance of a job, a home, a good start in life, whoever you are, wherever you are from”.

And he will tackle claims that the economic revival has not benefitted everyone by insisting that the benefits will be spread throughout the country.

Mr Cameron will say: “The past four years have been about laying the foundations for that Britain. The next five will be about finishing the job.

“Put another way - if our economic plan for the past four years has been about our country and saving it from economic ruin, our plan for the next five years will be about you and your family - and helping you to get on.”

Mr Cameron previously announced plans to offer extended hours access to a GP - seven days a week for every NHS patient in England - should the Tories win the general election, plus the return of named family doctors for every patient.

And Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the conference: “We urgently need to make it easier for busy working people get an appointment. That means more GPs, so I can today confirm plans to train and retain an extra 5,000 GPs.

“It also means new ways of working. Last year we announced plans for 7.5 million patients to get weekend and 8am till 8pm appointments.

“Today we have also announced we are rolling that out to millions more, meaning this service will be available for a quarter of the whole population.

“And going even further, I commit that at the end of the next parliament a Conservative government will make sure every NHS patient across the whole country will be able to get weekend and 8am till 8pm appointments.”

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