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Hospital cuts centre stage in election debate

23rd April 2010

A health-themed election debate with three senior politicians saw the discussion focus on hospital services.

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The event was hosted by the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, Kings Fund and NHS Confederation.

It saw the platform shared by health secretary Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley and Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

With services in maternity, children's and A&E units currently being revamped in England, Mr Burnham accused the Tories of being insincere by promising to put a temporary ban on changes if they win power.

The Conservatives said it felt some changes were against the interests of patients while Mr Lamb said he felt local residents should be given a greater say in any changes.

The reform of hospital services which sees centres of excellence created with specialist services has seen fewer centres located further away from patients and led to some smaller hospitals losing high profile departments.

While not against change, Mr Lansley said proposals needed reviewing to ensure they were not "against the interests of patients" but was accused by Mr Burnham of “saying what people want to hear.”

Mr Lamb suggested local residents needed to be more involved in decisions with decisions taken by bodies that are democratically elected.

He also backed minimum pricing for alcohol, though Mr Lansley and Mr Burnham opposed such a move.

Mr Lansley defended the Tory policy of proposing a voluntary insurance system to provide care to elderly and disabled people, while Labour and the Lib Dems want a compulsory levy.

 

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