[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 16:16 GMT
Reid attacks Tory NHS proposals
Health Secretary John Reid
The health secretary spoke after a Tory MP was sacked
Health Secretary John Reid has launched an attack on Conservative proposals for NHS spending.

It follows the sacking of Tory deputy chairman Howard Flight, for suggesting they were hiding spending cut plans.

Mr Reid said the Arundel and South Downs MP had been sacked for telling the truth, but the Tories insist they have not made any false promises.

Mr Flight has refused to concede that he cannot stand at the election, saying he has appealed to his local party.

Cuts and charges are wired into the Tory DNA
Health Secretary John Reid

Tory leader Michael Howard withdrew the whip from Mr Flight on Saturday, and he was later deselected by the local Conservative Association.

That happened after he told a private dinner the Tories could go further if they won the election because "everyone on our side of the fence believes passionately that it will be a continuing agenda".

He told the BBC again on Saturday afternoon his words had been taken out of context.

He had asked his local association to reconsider deselecting him and he was "awaiting their decision", he added.

'Management cuts'

Mr Reid said Mr Flight's views were "not exceptional" among the Tory leadership.

"Indeed, he was asked to be the architect of their policy, precisely because he was representative," he said.

"Cuts and charges are wired into the Tory DNA. And they are widely supported within the leadership."

Conservatives will reduce bureaucracy and waste and get resources into frontline care
Andrew Lansley
Shadow Health Secretary

Mr Reid was launching a nationwide poster campaign focusing on Tory plans for increasing patient choice.

Under the Tories' proposals, the NHS would pay half the cost if a patient chose to be treated independently.

The Lib Dems' health proposals include spending 8bn more and reducing waiting lists for tests.

They are also promising to get rid of middle management in the NHS in a bid to increase efficiency. Party leader Charles Kennedy says the cuts would provide a better return on government spending.

Howard Flight MP
Mr Flight was deselected by his constituency party on Friday
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "The country no longer trusts Labour and now we know why the Conservatives' James Report did not add up - because they had a hidden agenda.

"These evasions damage politics. The Liberal Democrats' policies are fully costed and are open to independent scrutiny. We think we can and should be straight with people."

Labour is renewing its charge that the Conservatives are proposing to charge patients for basic operations or forcing them to wait longer.

Labour ministers argue that Tory plans would divert 1.2bn from the NHS, without doing anything to increase the number of doctors and nurses.

But the Conservatives have branded Mr Reid's claims as "yet another Labour lie", claiming they had broken promises on taxes, student fees and the NHS.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that under a Conservative government, patients would be treated "according to need, not ability to pay".

They would improve patient services by cutting waste, he added.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Labour and the Tories continue their war of words



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific