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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Tories committed to free NHS
GP reception
The Tories plan to give patients maximum waiting times
The Conservatives have emphasised their commitment to a free NHS funded by the taxpayer in their pre-election manifesto.

However, 'Believing in Britain' does contain a pledge to "encourage independent health care to grow".

The document accuses Labour of creating a second class healthcare system in the UK.

It says too many people wait for too long for treatment within the NHS, and have little power to choose how they are treated.

Ministers are also accused of rationing health care by stealth.

"All the government has done is substitute its own political priorities and its need for headlines for the judgement of doctors and nurses," the document says.

Tory plans for the health service spelled out in the document include:

  • Giving individual GPs the right to refer patients to the hospital of their choice
  • Giving patients a maximum waiting time based on their specific medical need
  • Health authorities will be required either to treat the patient within that time, or to arrange treatment in another health authority area, or pay for treatment in the independent sector
  • The establishment of stand-alone surgical units to deliver surgery for routine conditions to minimise waiting times
  • An Exceptional Medicines Fund to ensure that new or expensive treatments are provided to all patients who need them
Despite the abolition of the GP fundholding scheme introduced by the last Conservative administration, the Tories have no plans for another major shake-up in primary care.

However, they do plan to give Primary Care Trusts, largely run by GPs, more power to commission services.

GPs will be encouraged to specialise so that they can provide a greater range of diagnosis and treatment themselves without the need to refer patients to the secondary sector.

The Tories also promised to increase the supply of doctors and nurses.

Incentives would be offered for trained staff to return to the NHS.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Health
Milburn reveals NHS reform plans
31 Jul 00 | Health
GPs say NHS plan 'is wrong'
15 Jun 00 | Health
Private hospitals to help NHS
06 Jun 00 | Health
NHS 'must modernise'
09 Jan 00 | Health
NHS on its knees, say Tories
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