Conservative Party leader David Cameron insists that spending on the NHS will be far better controlled under his stewardship should the Tories win the next General Election.
In a speech in London setting out Conservative priorities for the NHS, Mr Cameron (pictured) made his intentions clear and repeated his pledge to ring fence the health budget while committing to reforms to cut costs and extend "patient power".
The £4.5bn annual bill for administering the NHS is "astonishing", and must be slashed by a third over the next four years, he said.
And he added: "Spending on the NHS cannot stand still. But that does not mean we are simply going to pour money in as Labour have done.
"If we change nothing, and if productivity keeps falling at the rate it is today, then even with real-terms increases in spending we couldn't hope to cope with the pressures on the NHS.
"That's why, as well as those increases, we urgently need reform to make our whole health service more efficient."
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Oh dear. Another focus in the wrong area of the NHS. Why is it primary care always has to take a hit when it would seem that secondary care can do whatever they like, ie, interconsultant referrals and constant follow-ups for patients where it is quite unnecessary? It all gets billed back and the GPs get blamed! Isn't it about time this whole cost argument was turned on its head and exercises such as the pandemic flu programme, which has cost billions with quite large 'gaps' in evidence base were rethought. The programme for the building of 12-hour, 7-day health centres, which are completely unnecessary in most parts of the country, again costing billions – why wasn't this baby thrown out with the bath water when there are perfectly good GP services providing extended hours along with well run out-of-hours clinics? To victimise GPs yet again while spending billions on unnecessary projects seems absolutely stupid. I used to be a tory voter and I'm certainly not with the current excuse for a government. Who will I vote for now? Think I'll check out the Monster Raving Loony Party's healthcare policy" – Amanda Cullum, Lincolnshire
"We need to get back to basics. The NHS was founded on principles which do not match current health culture today. It has become an international health service known to everyone and used free by everyone whether eligible or not. It is time any government woke up to this, including other factors involved in it's overspend. The service needs a radical overhall, which should not necessarily involve money. The culture needs to change however insensitive and politically damaging it may seem. People need honesty, which hurts, but will provide benefits in the long term" – V Henry, London
"As always there is a lack of understanding and, looking at the comments posted, the usual GP-bashing occurs. The average GP works excessive hours – yes, they are well paid but justifiably (our lives are in their care, which means they are under constant, enormous stress), and as for 'making them do nights' [see comment below - Ed] we will end up back to where we were before the new contract; namely losing GPs at an increasing rate. The change of contract (removing nights and therefore the 18-hour days) was driven by this government to stop the galloping loss of GPs, which had reached epidemic proportions. I don't want to have a consultation with a bleary-eyed doctor who has just spent 60 hours of the last 72 on duty – that's when real mistakes are made. Now they are working more manageable hours (still continuously making
life-critical decisions unlike other jobs) and that is how it should stay. As for NHS changes – primary care and A&E etc – should be free to all but a compulsory individual insurance scheme would allow us to cover the cost of hospital care (80% of our NHS costs), ensure that there is real choice and drive up hospital standards. We should put more money into front-end services to ensure we have more GPs, a greater level of district nursing care, more mental health services and can deliver local services within the community" – Jeremy Pinner, Buckinghamshire
"There needs to be a clear distinction drawn between what GPs cost and the rest of the NHS monolith. The biggest waste of money is in implementing poorly conceived and badly planned gimmicks - the Conservatives need to learn from Labours' mistakes and not blindly follow dogma. There is no substitute for consulting and taking notice of those who have to implement 'initiatives', no matter what colour the government happens to be" – Alan Moore, Cheshire
"Administration and insensitive costs are too much. All expenses should be audited and exposed to the public. GMS services funding has to be publicly explained. The public is unaware how general practice is funded and how GPs are paid. Swine flu payment on papers shocked some people as GPs are paid for giving injections" – Name and address withheld
"'Pants on fire' comes immediately to mind – cut GPs' wages and make 'em do nights again – not sure that will be a vote winner with Tory GPs?" – Nigel Dickson, Southampton