The King's Fund statement on David Cameron speech on health

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The King's Fund today welcomed Conservative Party leader David Cameron's commitment to an NHS free at the point of need and his decision to scrap the Tory policy of subsidising patients to go private.

Speaking in response to a major speech on health policy by David Cameron at the King's Fund today, the Fund's chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We are pleased to see the Conservatives reaffirming their commitment to an NHS free at the point of use and funded through general taxation. This remains the most fair and equitable way of delivering health care.

'We are also delighted that the Conservatives have scrapped the patient’s passport policy, which would have done nothing for the vast majority of patients and would have cost billions of pounds for little or no gain.'

Commenting on David Cameron's call for more private sector involvement in the NHS, Niall Dickson said:

'There should be a role for the private sector in providing more NHS services over time so long as the quality of care remains high, patients have equal access to services and the procedures undertaken represent good value for money. The changing NHS market also needs to be effectively regulated to reduce the risks of financial instability in the system.'

Niall Dickson added: 'There was a lot to welcome in today's speech and we support the Conservatives' calls for greater freedoms to foundation trusts and for public health to be prioritised. But these are early days and we need to see in detail all of these policies as they are developed. In particular, we would like to see the Conservatives come out and support an outright ban on smoking in public places as this continues to represent one of the most significant ways of improving the nation’s health.

'There now seems to be a lot of common ground between the health policies of the government and the opposition. The difficulty arises when it comes to implementing these policies as the health service is increasingly finding itself under pressure as a result of a raft of reforms, which we believe are needed, such as the introduction of more competition. The risks inherent in the reform programme need to be better managed to ensure the health service doesn't suffer from further instability. It's important that politicians limit this as much as possible and ensure that health professionals are fully on board.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.