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Cameron pledges to protect NHS budget if returned to power

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The prime minister has promised to “protect the NHS budget and continue to invest more” in the next parliament.

Referring to when his party formed the coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, David Cameron said “we protected the NHS budget”.

“The next Conservative government will protect the NHS budget and continue to invest more,” he said in his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

“I am someone who has relied on the NHS, whose family knows more than most how important it is”

David Cameron

The commitment means a future Conservative government would maintain growth of at least the pace of inflation, delivering at least flat funding in real terms, but is not currently committing to greater increases.

Speaking at the conference earlier in the week, health secretary Jeremy Hunt indicated the government could not afford greater than inflation spending increases for the NHS.

Mr Cameron used his speech to heavily criticise Labour’s record on the health service, citing the past care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. “It was the Labour party who gave us the scandal of Mid Staffs,” he said.

He accused the opposition of saying “the old rubbish about the Conservatives and the NHS” and “spreading complete and utter lies” at its conference last week.

He said Labour “will never understand, and we will never forget, that you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy”.

Mr Cameron said the government’s NHS achievements were “only possible because we managed the budget”, giving the example of the cancer drugs fund. “More people are hearing those magic words – ‘all clear’,” he added.

The prime minister said “for me, this is personal,” emphasising his experience with the health service before the death of his son Ivan.

“I am someone who has relied on the NHS, whose family knows more than most how important it is, who knows what it’s like to go to hospital night after night with a child in your arms, knowing that when you get there, you have people who will care for that child and love that child like their own,” he said.

“How dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people’s children,” he said, to a standing ovation from the audience.

“It is difficult to overstate how badly a real injection of funding will be needed”

Peter Carter

However, the Foundation Trust Network said the “harsh and uncomfortable reality is that neither this nor the pledge made by Labour last week goes very far in closing the financial gap facing the NHS”.

“Demand for NHS care is rising by 4% a year; in the first three months of this financial year, for example, hospital emergency admissions were up by 4% and the most urgent ambulance journeys by 7%.

“Under both pledges, the NHS’s income would lag a long way behind the demands being placed upon it and the service would have had 10 continuous years of its lowest ever income growth.”

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Staff will feel some degree of relief that the NHS will have its budget protected under a future Conservative government.

“However, this merely mirrors the financial situation during this parliament,” he said. “With the twin challenges of an ageing population and public health emergencies, it is difficult to overstate how badly a real injection of funding will be needed.”

He noted that the NHS was already becoming a “battleground at the next election”.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • sorry is this the same idiot who promised no top down re-organisation of the NHS back in 2015!!!

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  • sorry should of read 2010..oops

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  • Disgusting speech yesterday from Mr Cameron, using his sadly now deceased son to propogate his empty rhetoric and political sound bytes whilst a carefully orchestrated camera was aimed aimed at picking up the crocodile tears from his wife to re-emphasise the point. Actions speak lounder than words and the latest round of NHS reforms have further driven a nail into the coffin of the NHS.

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  • I worked in CAMHS; my job, along with a number of other senior clinical posts, was "re-structured" away in 2012, precipitating my retirement last year. This was done to meet "efficiency savings" targets, which is cuts to you and me...That is a reduction in clinical staff in a service for children and families...

    So, Mr Cameron, what was that about not doing anything to badly affect other families?

    Am I allowed to call him a liar on here? Or do I have to stick with "terminological inexactitude"? Or " being economical with the actualité"?

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  • Does that mean Cameron will be replacing the £20 billion of cuts being made at present under so called efficiency savings and more importantly will he stop the trade agreement that will allow USA health companies to contract for NHS work.

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