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Tories give a “patient's guarantee”

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7216.1024a (Published 16 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1024
  1. Linda Beecham
  1. BMJ

    The United Kingdom's Conservative party has given a “patient's guarantee” in its statement of policy principles, which was launched at its annual conference last week.

    All NHS patients will be given a guaranteed waiting time based on their need for treatment. It will be up to the patient's doctor to decide the need, and if the treatment cannot be provided by the NHS in the time specified patients will have to be treated in the private sector.

    The statement calls for a debate on how to increase the small amount of gross domestic product that is spent on health in the United Kingdom. The party believes that one way would be to encourage an expansion in the private sector, and it wants to examine how this could be done.

    The party also proposes a long term care partnership between the government and the governed, whereby a future Tory government would protect more of people's assets if they were to make provision for their old age, so that they would not need state funded care later in life.

    Dr Liam Fox, the shadow health secretary, devoted much of his conference speech to criticising the government's record on health. “Labour seems to think that the problems of our health service can be solved by spin doctors rather than real doctors. So time and again, what Labour has delivered is the opposite of what Labour promised.”

    He criticised what he called the manipulation of waiting list figures. The Labour party had claimed that waiting lists had fallen by 65000 since it came to power, but its own statistics showed that nearly 200000 extra patients were waiting to join the waiting list. A Conservative government would move to a system that measured its success in terms of waiting times not waiting lists.

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