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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 16:47 GMT
Tories turn spotlight on health
David Cameron
Mr Cameron wants the Tories to be the party of public services
David Cameron is turning the spotlight on Conservative health policy as his party gathers in Nottingham for its annual spring conference.

He earlier set out a framework for tackling obesity, drink problems and sexually-transmitted infections.

He warned failure to deal with preventable ill health now will put the NHS under intense strain in the future.

Mr Cameron will seek to present the Tories as the party of public services during the two-day rally.

Launching a consultation exercise with shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, at a hospital in Cambridgeshire, Mr Cameron suggested stripping primary care trusts of their responsibility for budgets and handing them to local directors of public health.

They would distribute cash according to local needs as part of a new NHS structure accountable ultimately to a beefed-up chief medical officer.

The chief medical officer would report, in turn, to a renamed Secretary of State for Public Health, giving the issue greater importance.

TORY SPRING CONFERENCE
Saturday:
1145: Conference opens
1200: George Osborne
1250: David Davis and David Cameron on police reform
1500: William Hague
Sunday
0930: Andrew Lansley
0945: Public health and personal responsibility
1030: Social care and personal involvement - Caroline Spelman
1140: David Cameron

In the consultation paper, the Tories insisted tougher action was required to reduce preventable ill health in order to maintain popular support for a publicly-funded NHS.

Mr Cameron has also proposed ring-fencing budgets for public health intervention to ensure money is better spent.

Mr Cameron and Mr Lansley are due to address a rally of junior doctors in London on Saturday morning, before travelling to Nottingham for the spring conference.

In his speech, Mr Lansley will pledge a "root and branch" review of medical training, following complaints of a lack of places and a flawed interview process.

He will say: "A Consultant wrote to me on Wednesday and said that doctors today were 'lions led by donkeys'. He's right.

What is the point of expanding medical school places and then destroying the career progression of juniors?
Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary

"The appalling shambles made of Modernising Medical Careers risks undermining the morale and the future of the medical profession.

"What is the point of expanding medical school places and then destroying the career progression of juniors?"

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne will also address health policy in his keynote speech on Saturday, arguing Gordon Brown needs to address Labour's failure in this area by giving the NHS the budget it needs to work properly.

Earlier this week, Mr Cameron earned praise for his environmental policies from former US vice president Al Gore, who addressed the Conservative frontbench before a private meeting with the Tory leader.

Mr Gore, who also held talks with Chancellor Gordon Brown, praised the two men's "leadership" on climate change.

But the latest survey of grassroots Tory opinion by the ConservativeHome website suggests Mr Cameron still has some work to do to convince party members he has the right policies on the environment.

Some 70% of party members surveyed thought Mr Cameron was doing a good job as party leader.

But 54% thought climate change should be tackled through technology rather than taxation.

And 48% thought green taxes within the UK, of the kind proposed by Mr Cameron, were "pointless" because "any reduction in British emissions will be quickly overtaken by the industrial activity of fast-growing countries like India and China".




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