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Cameron pledges to ring-fence NHS budget

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged that ‘not a penny’ of the NHS budget will be cut until 2020 if his party is elected in 2015, in his speech to the Conservative party conference today.

Speaking on the final day of the conference in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said the NHS’s future hinged on the economic recovery before promising to ‘ring-fence NHS spending’.

It comes a day after Mr Cameron promised that patients will be able to access a GP practice seven days a week – from 8 ‘til 8 by 2020 if the Conservatives are returned to power at the next election, adding that he wanted the public to be able to see a GP at a time that ‘suits them and their family.’

He said: ‘The next Conservative Government will protect the NHS budget and continue to invest more. Because we know this truth – something Labour will never understand – and we will never forget: you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy.’

Meanwhile health secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday reiterated the Conservative Party’s plans to ‘train and retain’ an extra 5,000 GPs – less that the Labour’s pledge last week of 8,000.

He told delegates: ‘I can today confirm plans to train and retain an extra 5,000 GPs. But it also means new ways of working. Last year we announced plans for 7.5 million patients to get weekend and 8 till 8 appointments. Today we have also announced we are rolling that out to millions more –meaning this service will be available for a quarter of the whole population.

‘And going even further, I commit that at the end of the next parliament a Conservative government will make sure every NHS patient across the whole country will be able to get weekend and 8 till 8 GP appointments.’

The announcements come in the wake of last week’s Labour party conference, where Andy Burnham said general practice would become part of hospital-led ‘integrated care organisations’.