Conservatives and Labour clash over health policies

The election campaign looks set to become a battle over NHS policy as David Cameron's new year health manifesto was quickly savaged by health secretary Andy Burnham.

David Cameron wants PCTs in the most deprived areas to receive additional public health funding
David Cameron wants PCTs in the most deprived areas to receive additional public health funding

Soon after the Conservative leader revealed huge posters of himself with the slogan: 'I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS', Mr Burnham said Tory plans would lead to funding cuts in London and the Midlands.

Mr Cameron plans to introduce a 'health premium' should he win the election. The move would mean that PCTs covering the most deprived boroughs and poor health outcomes receive additional public health funding.

Mr Burnham responded: 'He (Mr Cameron) needs to tell us today which local areas in the Midlands and the south will see their funding cut to pay for the increases in other areas.'

King's Fund acting chief executive Dr Anna Dixon said NHS money is already allocated to areas based on deprivation as well as clinical need.

'It's not clear whether today's announcement is a move away from existing PCT allocation formulas or creates additional public health funding,' Dr Dixon said. 'More details are needed.'

The manifesto pledges to 'link GPs' pay to the quality of results they deliver', a simplified version of the Tories' pledge to move towards a QOF based on patient outcomes rather than processes.

GPs, alongside local hospitals and community services, will also be organised into 'maternity networks' to improve the care new mothers receive, the manifesto says.

The Conservatives also promise to 'open up the NHS to include new and independent providers', which is in contrast to Labour's recent message that 'the NHS is our provider of choice'.

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