Conservative leader David Cameron has put reform of the NHS at the heart of the political debate in an effort to address the possibility of a snap General Election.
The Tory leader is attempting to reassert his centre-ground credentials by attacking the government’s record on the health service.
Mr Cameron has taken a stand over decisions to shut maternity wards, and accident and emergency departments in local hospitals, over fears the plans will harm local NHS care.
He said: “What that means is scrapping a lot of the top-down health targets that the government has introduced, it means ending the pointless reorganisations, of which we have had nine over the last decade, and it means reviewing the costly and wasteful NHS computer.
“Then it means actually making sure that hospitals can work together, and GPs are put in the driving seat in terms of commissioning care to their patients.”
But health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “They are trying to develop a smokescreen that conceals the fact that they want to cut the health service.
“They want to cut £21bn of public services, and it is simply dishonest of them to try and launch a campaign to pretend they are not.
“Patients tell us, time and time again in lots of research, that they want services locally where possible, but when it’s necessary they want to go to specialised units.
“That’s exactly what the NHS provides.”
Copyright © PA Business 2007