The Conservatives have said the NHS is their “number one priority” as the party seeks to make health the cornerstone of its policy push.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley hailed the service as “a foundation of social solidarity” during a keynote speech at the Tory annual conference in Blackpool.
He added that his party will entrench the health service’s values in statute, devolve power from central government to professionals and patients, and ensure choice and competition.
“I believe we can now say with confidence that the Conservative Party is the party of the NHS,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has failed to coherently reform the NHS and Labour has lost the support and trust of its staff, he claimed.
Mr Lansley also unveiled plans to reform the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) if the Tories secure power in the next General Election.
He said NICE should appraise new cancer drugs when they are licensed so effective treatments are introduced quickly.
It comes as the party seeks to focus on health as it revealed plans to improve cancer survival rates by up to 100 lives a day.
He also announced plans to reform the care of stroke victims, with an increased emphasis on rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy.
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