Andrew Lansley: You Ask The Questions

The Conservative Health Spokesman answers your questions, such as 'Will the Tories cut GPs' wages?' and 'Is Lord Ashcroft bankrolling your party?'
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The Independent Online

Can you provide an assurance that the Conservatives would not compel people to have their medical records stored on a computer system? MARCUS WILLIAMSON, BY EMAIL

No. Many GP practices and hospitals are now operating on the basis of creating records only in electronic formats. What I can assure you of is that we will stop the automatic uploading of data to a central server with it being available across the NHS network without patients' consent. Patients should have a right to opt out of data-sharing. We will also enable patients to exercise more control over their own records.



First, how will a Conservative government get more money into the NHS? Will it be through taxation or insurance funding by stealth? Second, is the rumour that waiting lists are not guaranteed to stay at the current historically low levels under a Conservative administration well-founded? BOB RICHARDSON, BY EMAIL

We are committed to an NHS funded through taxation available to all based on need, not ability to pay. On your second question, because we are committed to increasing NHS capacity and improving results, and making hospitals accountable to patient choice, waiting lists and times should fall. The reduction in waiting lists has essentially been the result of capacity increases, not Labour's tick-box targets. Most importantly, the priority for treatment should be based on clinical judgement and clinical priority, not central political targets.



We know from America that multiple healthcare providers equals massive administrative costs, huge profits for private providers and poor healthcare for the general population (but excellent healthcare for the rich). Is this the Conservative vision of the NHS of the future? MARTIN NORRIS, LONDON

No. The Conservative vision for the future of the NHS is to combine equitable access to healthcare for all, with health outcomes as good as any in the world, based on a service which is responsive to patients' needs and wishes, with enhanced responsibility for clinicians who are more accountable for the quality and results they achieve.



GPs willingly accept that their pay deal was ridiculously overgenerous. Will you reduce their wages to more sensible levels? ANDREW SELBY, BY EMAIL

The GP contract was seriously flawed. The issue now is how to ensure that GPs are both well-paid senior professionals, and that they have the responsibility for the management and care of their patients which should go alongside that.

With the knowledge that the NHS has debts running into billions of pounds, don't you think it's time for this Government to take full responsibility by taking over the NHS, thus controlling it, looking at where finance is best placed and thereby reducing a risk such as seen with the world banking deficit? JILLY HEAD, BY EMAIL

Centralised control of the NHS is what led to the loss of financial control in the NHS four years ago. The NHS is a public service and there will be public accountability for spending and for living within budgets. But the effective use of resources depends upon getting resources and decision-making closer to patients and in a way that matches resources to needs more efficiently. By doing so, we can cut the costs of bureaucracy in the service.



Roughly how many times a week do you wish that Dan Hannan kept his mouth shut, or was a member of UKIP instead? CHARLOTTE ROLL, BY EMAIL

I don't.

Why has Daniel Hannan not had the Tory Whip removed after his comments on Fox TV (twice) about the NHS? HENRY TINSLEY, BY EMAIL

Because party discipline should not extend to the censorship of individual views.

Surely it is not possible for voters to trust your party with the health service given the strength of animosity shown by elected members and the strong right wing of your party? I speak as someone who knows that when you need it, the health service is there for you with great efficiency. TONY WALLIS, BY EMAIL

Voters can trust the Conservatives with the NHS because of David Cameron's and my personal commitments to it, and because those are shared throughout the Conservative Party. We have shown not only how we will protect the NHS but also how we will reform and improve it. That is why a recent opinion poll showed that more NHS staff will be voting Conservative at the next election than for any other party.



Were you told off for your 10-per-cent gaffe (about cuts across Whitehall departments), which Labour has exploited ever since? A lot of Tories consider you a liability as a consequence. Did David Cameron say as much to you? EDWARD TETT, BY EMAIL

No. And being honest with the public about Labour's approach to the public finances is to our credit; Gordon Brown's dishonesty about public spending has been shown to be the liability.



Don't you at least have to admit that Labour pumped much-needed resources into the NHS after neglect under Thatcher and Major? They might have left it in a mess, but your party's ideological opposition to a big state, and the implicit investment in public services, got it into a mess in the first place. FAY MATTHEWS, BY EMAIL

NHS spending has rightly increased. The tragedy is that costs went up and productivity went down. Labour has demonstrated that you can spend more to get less. We have to sustain investment, but deliver reform which secures more for less and allows growing investment to secure improving quality and health outcomes. I don't underestimate the impact of a rising population, increasing numbers of older people, technology advances in healthcare and people's legitimate expectations for higher-quality standards of healthcare. That is why we have made the commitment to increase NHS funding in the future.



How many times have you tried cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and any other Class A to C drug? If you don't answer 'zero' in all cases, we'll know you're more interesting (and honest) than your leader. ANNA VAN KERR, BY EMAIL

Sorry to disappoint, but the answer is zero.

The new Prime Minister of Belize called [Tory donor] Michael Ashcroft, who is bankrolling your election, "predatory". Is that how you'd describe him in your dealings with him? Or did he just pass over a blank cheque? KIRSTEN ARNOLD, BY EMAIL

No.

Do you think you will hold a position as Secretary of State for Health once in Government? BOYD O'DONNELL, BY EMAIL

That is a matter for David Cameron.

Cameron has said he wants some senior figures from the party in his Government. Who would be your pick? JULIA FINCH, BY EMAIL

I would hope that a Conservative government would include senior figures from the party. Who they will be is a matter for David Cameron. You can see through, for example, Ken Clarke's return to the Shadow Cabinet how David Cameron is using the best people to secure the best preparation for Government.

In [Tory] Cabinet meetings, is there a physical barrier between your leader, George Osborne, Michael Gove, other Cameroons, and the rest of you? VALERIE PENDLE, BY EMAIL

No – we are one team.

Did you become a Conservative or were you always one? SIMIAN FORD, BY EMAIL

I had no party affiliations from 1979- 87 as I was a civil servant. I became a Conservative in the late 1980s because I could see that the Conservative Party had transformed Britain's economy and our standing in the world compared to Labour in the 1980s. I marched in London in the mid-Seventies against Labour's cuts to education and health and I knew then that we had to have a dynamic economy to prevent that happening again. I'm only sorry we're now seeing Labour recreating the experience of economic collapse leading to public service cuts.



Where did you go on holiday this year? And what books did you take with you? CHRISTOPHER HELLER, BY EMAIL

South-west France. I read Millennium by Tom Holland, Pompeii by Mary Beard and Talleyrand by Robin Harris.

Do you feel strongly that Ravi Bopara should be given another shot at the No 3 position for England [in the cricket team]? REBECCA STEWART, BY EMAIL

As someone who was born in Essex and was brought up watching Keith Fletcher, I certainly believe England can benefit from having more Essex batsmen in the team. He is a talented player and I'd like to see him have another chance.

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