Cameron’s Tory Focus On Welsh NHS

Conservatives have promised better hospitals and schools and more affordable homes in their Welsh assembly election manifesto. Tory leader David Cameron joined party assembly leader Nick Bourne for the launch near Mold, in Flintshire.

The manifesto said the NHS was the party’s priority, and that professionals, not politicians, should be “in the driving seat” for patients. It also pledged to fund schools directly, rather than through councils.

The document, “Vote Welsh Conservative for a change” said the party would spend the same amount overall as Labour on public services and would fund its programme by saving 1% from existing assembly government budgets.

The Conservative Party won 11 seats out of 60 at the 2003 assembly election. It is the third largest political group in Cardiff Bay, one seat behind the biggest opposition party, Plaid Cymru. The minority Labour assembly government has 29 seats.

Welsh Conservatives have spent recent months preparing supporters for the prospect of entering some sort of coalition with other parties if nobody wins an overall majority on 3 May.

A long list of Tory NHS plans includes a promise of prompt and safe treatment, extra cash for more modern medicines and an investment fund for cancer services. There are proposals to tackle obesity, pilot a “nurse led walk-in centre” in north Wales and improve cleanliness and food in hospitals.

The manifesto also contains a commitment to establish an independent commission to examine the structure of hospital services. Each political party could nominate a member of the commission, along with other groups representing health staff and patients. The party would seek powers from Westminster to reform mental health services which the Tories said “need urgent attention”.
The document’s 35 pages also cover measures for carers and children in care. Small and medium-sized businesses would be given incentives for conserving energy, using fewer motor vehicles, and for providing flexible working and childcare. The party pledges to expand the business rate relief scheme.

The Conservatives would encourage more public services to be provided by the private sector and introduce a voucher scheme to give businesses a wider choice of business advice. A seaside towns initiative would use EU funds to improve resorts.

The manifesto also confirms a plan to give every household in Wales £20 worth of energy saving light bulbs as part of measures to reduce climate change. Pensioners would receive a £100 council tax discount each year to help them with the bills.

The manifesto describes the Conservative Party as “the party of change, optimism and hope”.