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Health tops the political agenda

PUBLISHED: 16:16 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 10:54 12 August 2010

HEALTH policies are often the most emotive and complicated, but offer real insight into the ideological differences between the parties.

HEALTH policies are often the most emotive and complicated, but offer real insight into the ideological differences between the parties.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are comfortable promoting private businesses inclusion into the National Health Service (NHS).

Liberal Democrats do not oppose private companies' involvement in the NHS but do wish to end any bias in favour of them by opening up tendering to other providers such as staff co-operatives.

It is only the Green Party who wish to buck the privatisation trend by advocating reversing the sale of NHS services and hospitals to private companies.

The march against the closure of the A&E at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup (QMS) attracted high profile politicians including London mayoral candidates Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick and Simon Hughes.

Already the neighbouring hospitals - the Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough (PRUH) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich (QEH) - are feeling the strain.

But who will stop the department from being permanently being axed?

Labour certainly won't and the Conservative health spokesperson told the Times that there is little they could do now it is closed.

When Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley visited Sidcup in 2008, he re-iterated the moratorium policy, when asked how Tories would do things differently.

Even though the Tory's manifesto pledges to "Stop the forced closure of A&Es and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services", a health spokesperson for the Conservative party central office said their policy is still to hold a moratorium of any proposed changes.

They added: "If the local people and GPs want their A&E to stay open, it will."

It looks like residents will have to look at the main parties' other policies to help differentiate their positions on health.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Orpington, David McBride, said: "We will increase spending in some parts of the NHS by cutting waste in others - namely management costs, bureaucracy and quangos.

"A key policy will be to give those in charge of hospital wards their own budgets, as they know better than managers what is needed at ward level.

"We will also establish elected health boards so local people get a real say in what their health service is. Importantly for a lot of local residents we will cut the red tape by integrating health and social care- particularly important for elderly people when they are discharged from hospital and need help at home."

Conservative parliamentary candidate for Orpington Jo Johnson did not respond to the Times' questions.

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