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David Cameron: Our contract for a better NHS

Now today I want to talk about the National Health Service.  It was three years ago that I said you could sum up my priorities in three letters; N, H, S. 

And it was the start of this campaign that the first thing I spoke about was our National Health Service and here on the final week as we get in to the final stretch of this election campaign I'm back talking about the thing I care about most, that my family values most and that is our National Health Service.

It did amazing things for my family and I know how much other families rely on it.  And I know what a brilliant thing it is in our country that if you get ill, if you have to go to your GP, if you have to go to your hospital they don't ask how big your bank balance is, they don't ask for your credit card, they don't ask about your insurance policy you just get the very best treatment that you deserve free at the point of use and that will always, always be the case under a Conservative Government.

Now let me say what I think is so important about the NHS in this election campaign and the promises I want to make to everyone who's watching and everyone who's listening here this afternoon.  As I've travelled round the country during this election it's quite clear that one of the biggest oppositions that anyone faces is not actually another political party, it's apathy, it cynicism it's scepticism about whether politicians can actually deliver anything.  And that's why we launched our election campaign saying we're inviting all of you to come and join us in the Government because real change takes place not just when politicians pass laws or spend money or issue directives, real change takes place when we recognise we're all in this together.  We all have a role in trying to change our country together.

And as we come to the end of this election campaign I want to set out very clearly what our side of the bargain is, what the Government's side of the bargain is so that if people elect a Conservative Government they know what they're going to get, they know what they have to hold us accountable for.  And that's why we've published this, the contract with the voters between the Conservative Party and the voters, setting out the pledges that we will deliver.

And when it comes to our Health Service there are three very clear things that we are saying.  First of all we will increase health spending; we will increase health spending every year by more than inflation.  We are not saying that about every other department, you cannot; we all know how big the hole in our public finances is.  But we say that NHS is special and so we will increase its budget by more than inflation every year.

We are the only party to make that pledge about the NHS, all of it.  It's important, not just as a symbol of our commitment to the NHS but we all know the pressures on the NHS.  We know the new drugs coming on stream, we know about the new treatments and how much they cost.  We know that more children are being born with disabilities and are living longer, we know about the extra costs on the NHS so increasing its budget is right.  That is the first point in our contract with you the voter for the NHS.

The second is that we will fund those extra cancer drugs that people need and make sure services are available in our NHS.  It's a tragedy today that you hear and you read about cases where people have had to mortgage their house, or people have had to borrow money to get cancer drugs that their doctors want them to have.  So because we're not putting in place the National Insurance increase that Labour are committed to we will set up a cancer drugs fund to make sure that if your doctor thinks that you should have a cancer drug that will help you to live a longer and better life you should get that drug.  It's a two hundred million pound fund and it will help make clear, make sure that those drugs are available to people.

We will improve services in other ways including NHS dentistry where we want proper check ups for all five year olds.  We will make sure that we have better out of hours services, which has been such a concern in recent years, and that people have proper access to their General Practitioners because for us the GP is the absolute key to the NHS.  They are the door keepers of the NHS, they're the ones who help us through the NHS.

But third, finally and in many ways most importantly, the contract that we have with you the British public  about the NHS that we will stick to, that we will deliver on, is not just with the patients it's also with the staff in our NHS who do such an incredible job.  Not just the doctors and the nurses but also the practice nurses, the receptionists, the people who manage the GPs' practices, the cleaners, the porters all those involved in our NHS need to be valued.

I think in recent years they haven't been valued enough, you have been covered in processes and box ticking and targets and bureaucracy and I find too many doctors and nurses saying to me look I have a vocation, I do this because I love it, I want to be free to do that job, to show that vocation and I feel it's being sapped by all the targets put on top of me.  So we will get rid of those targets, we will get rid of the box ticking and the bureaucracy.  We will not let the professions off the hook, they will have to deliver but we'll trust you to deliver on the outcomes we all want to see which is a healthier nation, making sure we're surviving cancer for longer, making sure our record in terms of strokes and heart attacks are amongst the best in Europe rather than, so often as they are at the moment, amongst the worst in Europe.

So those are the pledges that we make to you the voters and we make to you those who work in our fantastic National Health Service.  They are here in black and white in our contract.  In a minute I will sign the contract in front of all of you and I know that you are sceptical about politicians, you're distrustful of what politicians say so I want you to hold us to this.  I want you to make sure we deliver this and if we don't deliver this you can kick us out in five year's time.  We need some accountability in our politics that is what this contract is going to bring and it's going to bring it to, I think, the most important area in our national and our public life those three letters that mean so much to my family and I know means so much to so many people in our country; N, H, S.

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