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Burnham attacks Tory 'sales-speak' on NHS

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health secretary Andy Burnham has attacked the Conservatives' plans for the NHS, claiming they amount to little more than ‘sales speak'.

Addressing delegates at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Mr Burnham reiterated a series of policy pledges on healthcare, and attempted to reclaim the health service as Labour territory by rubbishing the Tories claim to be ‘the party of the NHS'.

Mr Burnham said recent pledges on cancer waiting times and scrapping GP practice boundaries demonstrated that the party was still on the right road to taking the NHS ‘from good to great'.

He said giving GPs direct access to ultrasound and MRI scans, and working towards a one-week right to get the results, would save up to 10,000 lives per year, and criticised the Conservatives' pledge to scrap centralised targets including the two-week wait to see a cancer specialist.

Mr Burnham also suggested next week's Conservative Party conference would host ‘more private health care insurance under one roof that at the British Banking Association's AGM'.

‘Next week, when Mr Cameron looks out on his own conference, how many of the faces staring back will shift in their seats if he repeats his claim [to be the Party of the NHS]. Your sales-speak doesn't ring true to me, David.'

The health secretary also pledged to abolish car parking charges at hospitals over the next three years by making ‘year-on-year savings from back-office costs'.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley quickly hit back at Mr Burnham's claims, saying the speech contained ‘no vision, no ambition to help the NHS rise to the challenges of the future and no recognition of the fact that results for patients still lag behind the best in the world and we urgently need to improve them'.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham

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