David Cameron tried to steal Labour's clothes as the "party of the National Health Service" as the Tories admitted they were "out of touch" on the issue when they were in power.
Mr Cameron unveiled plans to remove politicians from day-to-day control of the NHS, which would be run by an independent board. The Opposition will bring in an NHS Independence Bill in the new year and challenged Labour to support it.
But the Tory leader sidestepped questions about whether his campaign against "NHS cuts" would mean he would reverse them if he became Prime Minister. He promised only that health would be "one of the most important calls on the proceeds of growth".
Mr Cameron announced the other planks of his party's health policy as: ending the damage caused by "pointless and disruptive reorganisations"; working with the grain of Labour's reforms when they were right; taking the politics out of the NHS by scrapping centrally imposed and politically motivated targets; and a "fair funding" system to prevent "fiddling" the share-out of resources for political expediency rather than clinical need.
Stephen Dorrell, who is chairing a Tory policy group on public services, admitted the party had been "out of touch" on health - including while he was health secretary.Reuse content