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Michael Howard: £10 million technology to fight hospital superbug

Speaking about Conservative action to deliver cleaner hospitals in London today, Michael Howard will say:

I've always said accountability makes Mr. Blair angry.

Yesterday you saw it for yourselves.

When held to account for the one issue on which he has taken a stand, Mr. Blair got irritated.

Don't question my integrity he said - this isn't about character.

Mr. Blair - this election is about character. It's about your character and the way you do business.

You've said one thing before an election and done something quite different afterwards.

You've promised a lot and failed to deliver.

And you've started things you haven't followed through.

That's why trust is an issue at this election.

Take tax, or tuition fees, or our hospitals.

In 1997 Mr. Blair said there were just 24 hours to save the NHS. 24 hours to save the NHS.

But what state are our hospitals in today?

Does Mr. Blair know what's been happening at Northwick Park Hospital where ten women have died in its maternity unit over the last three years?

As a report published last week found "there were serious problems with these [maternity] services"

And think about MRSA.

In the fourth richest country in the world, more people die from infections they picked up in hospital than they do on our roads.

That's 5,000 deaths each year: each death a tragedy for a family.

And this afternoon Sandra and I will be meeting some of the victims of MRSA in Birmingham.

Hardworking families are paying an extra £5,000 in tax but they are not getting value for money.

Well people don't have to settle for this.

It's time to take a stand.

That's why cleaner hospitals are one of our five, key priorities for government - alongside school discipline, more police, controlled immigration and lower taxes.

That's why we've put together a ten point action plan to clean up our hospitals - an action plan that we have drawn up in consultation with the Infection Control Nurses Association.

At its heart is a commitment to give power to doctors, nurses and local professionals - they should run our hospitals not bureaucrats sitting in Whitehall.

Doctors and nurses know best how to care for the sick and to cure the ill.

A Conservative Government will trust them to exercise their judgement - not second guess them at every turn with targets and initiatives.

We'll bring back matron - giving them the power to shut hospitals wards and operating theatres that are infected with the super bug if they think that is what's needed.

We'll expect hospital trusts to commit to high standards, because we believe you cannot manage a problem without having clear standards.

We'll publish all MRSA infection rate data by clinical department, so that people are aware of the dangers they face and the choices they can make.

Those that commit to these standards will be rewarded with the resources, because they have shown that they have taken the first steps to tackle the problem,

Finally, because we believe in taking fast and practical action, we will make £10 million available to enable all NHS Hospital Trusts to deploy state-of-the-art Nasal Swab Testing Technology. That will mean MRSA can be identified in a matter of hours rather than days.

We are committed to urgent, practical action to clean up our hospitals.

So if you want to take a stand on cleaner hospitals and send a message to Mr. Blair, vote Conservative on May the fifth.

I'll now hand over to Andrew.

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