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The spin

Free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions and free dental and eye check-ups under a Liberal Democrat government.

Launching his party's health manifesto, Charles Kennedy said he had set aside £225 million to cover the costs. The LibDems will also 'scrap absurd political targets', ban smoking in public places and allow diagnostic tests to be provided through private or public sector.

The rebuttal

These policies will mean 'even more tax rises' and a black hole in the public finances of £15 billion by 2006/7, say the Tories.

They also argue the LibDem policies would fail to address bureaucracy, lack of capacity and, most importantly, dirty hospitals.

The reality?

Independent health think-tank the King's Fund says free prescriptions are 'long overdue'.

But chief executive Niall Dickson warned that the LibDems manifesto would need high investment and greater use of the independent sector.

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