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"Match our NHS pledge" Cameron challenges Brown

David Cameron stressed the Conservatives’ “wholehearted commitment” to the NHS in a keynote speech in Bolton, and explained how the NHS can deliver the rising standards of healthcare people expect in the 21st Century.

David said he was committed to “the principle of a healthcare system that is free at the point of use, based on need and not the ability to pay”.

And he stressed that improving the NHS required reform of both sides of the “cost equation”:

“We have to make the supply of healthcare more efficient and we must also do something about the increase in demand for healthcare. The first set of reforms is all about choice, competition, and a focus on outcomes not targets, while the second is all about public health.”

David promised to increase competition by opening up the opportunity for any willing provider to supply care to NHS patients.

And he stressed that by giving patients more choice – over the doctor they see, and the hospital they’re treated in – we can create “a more user-friendly NHS”.

He also said that, under a Conservative Government, there would be a move away from Labour’s process targets and towards health outcome measures:

“The millions of human dramas that pour through the doors of the NHS need different responses, on-the-spot decisions, professional initiative, judgement, discrection.”

David ended by stressing, “We believe in the NHS. We understand the pressures it faces. And we have a plan to make the changes it needs. So we are the party of the NHS today because we not only back the values of the NHS, we have a vision for the future of the NHS.”

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