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David Cameron: NHS not a general election priority for Tories

PM leaves health service out of top Conservative Party issues in speech to Parliament

THE NHS is the stunning omission from the Tories’ six election themes, which David Cameron revealed yesterday just days after a dozen hospitals were plunged into crisis.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said that the NHS was now the subject that “dare not speak its name” for Mr Cameron.

Dodging the damaging health crisis, Mr Cameron instead named deficit reduction, jobs, tax cuts, education, home ownership and retirement as the Tories’ themes.

It represented a U-turn on the PM’s position before the last general election, when he labelled the health service a “priority” for his party.

The Tory Party’s 2010 election manifesto had also insisted: “We will back the NHS,” in a bid to dispel the long-standing public view that it could not be trusted with Britain’s most cherished public service.

But the Tories were accused of changing their tune after last week’s chaos which saw 14 hospitals declare major incidents.

Speaking in Stevenage yesterday, Mr Miliband said: “No wonder David Cameron has gone from saying the NHS were the three most important letters to him to the health service becoming the subject that dare not speak its name.”

Pressed on whether he had abandoned the NHS by reporters in Nottingham, the PM again accused Labour of playing politics with the NHS.

He described reports that Mr Miliband had said he hoped to “weaponise” the NHS at the general election as “an appalling thing to say.”

Labour’s leader has not denied he used the phrase, but said on Sunday: “What I absolutely stand by is that we are in a fight for the future of the NHS.”

The pair will however put aside their NHS spat tomorrow as Labour prepares to back Chancellor George Osborne’s charter for budget responsibility.

Critics have warned that Labour’s support for the government’s deficit reduction targets will mean it making £30 billion in cuts if it takes power.

Shadow Treasury secretary Chris Leslie insisted, however, that Labour would reduce the deficit by making “sensible spending cuts” and increasing taxes on millionnaires.

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