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Tories to make NHS funding pledges

NHS budgets have once again become a political battleground as the Conservatives have promised to spend more in deprived areas and give expectant mothers "real choice" about where they give birth.

"Maternity networks", which would link specialist hospital care with community-based maternity units, more choice about other maternity services and a greater proportion of resources to run-down communities, are some of the policies in a chapter of the party's draft manifesto unveiled by leader David Cameron and shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

It is a contrast to the Tories' 2005 manifesto, which offered subsidies to encourage people to use private hospitals. Mr Cameron has reiterated his support for the health service many times, pledging that his proposed public budget cuts will not affect the health department in the run-up to a general election.

Labour argued that the Conservatives would make fundamental changes to the NHS that would impact on poorer patients, and that theirs is the only party that can be trusted to protect the system.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Conservative Party Draft Health Manifesto