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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
In full: Lansley's speech on the NHS
Here is the full text of shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley's speech to the 2007 Conservative Party conference:

Much has changed in the Conservative Party.

People used to say Conservatives didn't care or know about public services.

One lesson we have learnt is that people don't care what you know, until they know that you care.

Today, people do know that we care about the National Health Service, and so they do care what we know about health.

Despite this, people sometimes say "But do Conservatives really understand public services?"

Let me tell you. I come from a public service family.

My eldest brother trained as a teacher.

My middle brother has been a police officer for 30 years.

I began my working life as a civil servant.

And my father worked in the National Health Service. For nearly 30 years, he ran the pathology lab at East Ham Memorial Hospital. He was working in the health service from the day it was created in 1948.

We work in public services. We depend on them. We care about them. Don't let anyone say that we don't.

A year ago, David Cameron made it clear the NHS is our number one priority.

And in the last year, we have turned that priority into policy. Alongside Stephen Dorrell and his team's thorough review, we have set out our plans for improving the health of the nation.

This "Autonomy and Accountability" White Paper; this policy to empower patients - putting them at the heart of the NHS; policies for powerful public health campaigns.

And, in the last year, we have together - alongside doctors and nurses - fought campaigns to save District General Hospitals and community hospitals from Gordon Brown's cuts.

I want to thank my colleagues on the health team for all this:

Stephen O' Brien, Mark Simmonds, Anne Milton and Mike Penning from the Commons, Freddie Howe and Ian McColl in the Lords.

People want to know that our health policies will make a difference.

They can be sure that they will. It will be a radical shift of power from central Government to professionals and patients.

All across the developed world, governments are struggling with the cost and challenges of healthcare:

Rising expectations.

Ageing populations

New technologies.

Increasing obesity, and lifestyle-related diseases.

Resurgent infections.

Yet, we cannot meet 21st Century challenges with a 20th Century system.

Monolithic, centrally-controlled healthcare will never be as innovative or as efficient as we know it must be.

As Conservatives, we know what we have to do in our great public services.

After 1979, we transformed the enterprise and innovation of British industry. In the next decade, we must transform the enterprise and innovation of our public services.

We have to set the NHS free.

Autonomy for professionals.

Accountability to patients.

Offering choice, delivering through competition.

Choice and competition.

Two words Labour don't understand.

Gordon Brown promised the NHS investment and reform.

He took the taxes and increased NHS budgets but there's been no coherent reform.

We will increase the investment in the NHS, in real terms, year-on-year, but we will also provide the reform.

GP Budgets to commission healthcare on behalf of their patients.

Bringing care closer to home through local commissioning, which will mean that services which are valued - community hospitals, accessible maternity services and local A&E departments - are protected.

Information for patients, so they know about their condition, their options, what to expect, and offering choice of providers or hospital.

Hospitals set free of bureaucracy and controls, free to provide integrated and efficient services. Managers free to manage, not stifled by red tape.

Evidence-based strategies to deliver better health outcomes - including a search and destroy strategy against hospital infection.

And a new cancer strategy promoting prevention, awareness of symptoms, early diagnosis and rapid treatment.

You know it is a disgrace that our survival rates from cancer are so far below those in Europe. If we were to achieve European averages, we would save an extra 24 lives a day. If we achieve the best in Europe, we would save 95 lives a day from cancer.

It is a scandal that we are the leading European centre for cancer research - funded not least by donations from the British public - and yet Britain is amongst the slowest in Europe in the take-up of new cancer drug treatments.

So I will pledge this:

We will ensure that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence does its appraisal of new cancer drugs at the same time as drugs are licensed so that the UK will be among the first to introduce effective cancer treatments.

Also, we will improve stroke care. The National Audit Office showed three years ago how, in Australia, they provided clot-busting drugs to 9 per cent of stroke patients - really all those who could benefit from it.

The equivalent in Britain should be over 10,000 stroke patients treated in this way. In fact, last year, it was only 218.

The result is lives lost and many people living with disability. It also costs the NHS more. The Government admits that we spend more on stroke care than other countries, but we still have worse outcomes. So we will reform stroke services and save lives.

Compared to other countries, the NHS is a great asset. In a fragmented society, it is a foundation of social solidarity. We will not, must not, tolerate the inequalities in access to health which mars U.S healthcare.

The NHS has values which we will defend. Even more than that; we will for the first time entrench those in statute.

Comprehensive health services, available to all, free at the point of use, based on need, not ability to pay. A service funded through taxation but where every person can exercise greater control over their healthcare and understand what their NHS entitlements are.

Enduring values, but in a modernised system.

It must be changed because you can't deliver the healthcare people need, if you don't listen to patients, or trust the doctors, nurses and managers whose job it is to care for them.

You can't treat patients as individuals with one-size-fits-all national targets.

You can't deliver the best healthcare if the number of administrators has gone up three times as fast as the number of nurses.

You can't deliver the best cancer care treatment if Britain is the slowest country in Europe to use new cancer drugs.

You can't provide choice in childbirth to mothers by closing down their local maternity units.

You can't deliver care closer to home with fewer district nurses and by shutting down community hospitals.

You can't deliver dentistry if patients can't find an NHS dentist.

You can't fight infections by cleaning a hospital just the once.

You can't run the NHS successfully if the staff are demoralised and devalued.

It is time for all that to change. Labour have lost the trust and support of NHS staff.

Good intentions are meaningless if you fail to deliver.

"Don't promise great public services, just deliver them"

And that is what we will do. We will do it with the trust of the NHS staff and a public who know that we care and that we will deliver.

Next June, we will celebrate the diamond jubilee of the NHS. I Want to celebrate it with my father and those who have worked in and been cared for by our NHS.

I want it to be celebrated by a Conservative Government. A Conservative Party which is trusted with the NHS.

I believe we can now say with confidence that the Conservative Party is the Party of the NHS.

The NHS is my priority and my passion. My objective is for Britain to have healthcare second to none.

It is time for policies which will make a difference.

It is time for NHS freedom.

It is time to put patients first.

It is time to re-empower NHS professionals.

It is time to combat the causes of future disease.

It is time for delivery.

It's time for change.

It is time for the Conservatives.




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