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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
In years to come David Cameron's conference claim that his priorities as Prime Minister could be summed up in the three initials N-H-S, could become as iconic as Tony Blair's education, education, education.

The Tory leader certainly hopes so.

Proving his party is not the ideological opponent of the health service is clearly one of his major objectives and tomorrow he'll launch an NHS tour of Britain with a speech at the King's Fund think tank.
Andrew Lansley
Andrew Lansley

Mr Cameron's ditched the previous Conservative policy of providing incentives - patients passports - to encourage people to go private. Instead he'll call for more power for professionals and patients within the NHS and less interference from central government.

An independent board would take responsibility for commissioning health care; ministers would relinquish day to day control of the service; and, a regulator would decide how to divvy up the cash between different parts of the NHS.

The Conservatives will oppose cuts forced by the government on trusts which are overspending. The aim: to reverse half a century of political typecasting and make not Labour but the Tories the party of the NHS. Critics of Mr Cameron complain that, yet again, it all amounts not to a policy but an exercise in PR and electoral positioning.

To answer the accusation we spoke to the Conservatives' health spokesman Andrew Lansley. David Cameron has been owning up to mistakes made by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Was your policy on health a mistake? Should you have spent even more?

Interview with Andrew Lansley

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