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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 15:23 GMT
Tories slam Brown on NHS 'crisis'
George Osborne
Mr Brown must use the budget to sort out the NHS, Mr Osborne says
Shadow chancellor George Osborne has launched a scathing attack on Chancellor Gordon Brown accusing him of financial mismanagement in the NHS.

In a speech at the Tory spring forum in Nottingham, Mr Osborne said Mr Brown should use what could be his final Budget to tackle the NHS "crisis".

The Tories are using the two-day rally to present themselves as the party of public services.

Labour said no-one would take the Tories seriously on health.

Before travelling to Nottingham, Conservative leader David Cameron addressed a rally of junior doctors in London angry at a lack of training places.

He branded a new system for applications "a complete and utter shambles" and pledged to hold the government to its promise to provide a training place for every junior doctor in England.

He also pledged to treat doctors applying for posts "like human beings".

Much of the fire from the conference platform in Nottingham has been directed at Gordon Brown, the man the Conservatives expect to face at the next general election.

'NHS day'

In his speech, Mr Osborne blamed the chancellor for ward closures and job losses in local hospitals.

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

"In every part of this country there are local hospitals facing closure, nurses facing the axe and junior doctors left in limbo.

"The chancellor's financial mismanagement has led to ward closures, job losses and patients travelling further for their care.

"So Gordon Brown should make Budget Day NHS Day.

"He should set out the National Health Service's budget for the next three years, so the health professionals can start to plan for the long term now.

"We've already had the three-year budgets for the Home Office, the schools capital budget and the Treasury itself.

"So why not the NHS? He must have done the sums. Let's have them."

'Rallying cry'

He said the cash had to follow clinical priorities, "not the political priorities of the Labour Party" and he called for fair funding across the country and an end to "pointless reorganisations".

Mr Cameron, who set out moves yesterday to tackle public health issues like obesity, alcohol problems and sexually transmitted infections, will arrive in Nottingham in the late afternoon.

The conference was opened by party chairman Francis Maude, who hailed the Tories' "longest lead in the opinion polls for 20 years". He also rounded on Labour, saying the era of "Tony Blair is drawing to sorry, tawdry conclusion".

Hitting back at Mr Osborne's criticisms, Chief Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Timms said: "No-one will take seriously George Osborne's claims on the NHS today.

"George Osborne and David Cameron have opposed every penny piece of investment we have provided for the NHS, they have opposed the increase in National Insurance to fund the NHS and are now proposing to cut the very funding that a modern National Health Service needs."

Shadow chancellor attacks Brown on NHS funding

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