Headlines: October 7th, 1998

The Conservatives are calling for more private sector funding and the return of matrons for the NHS.Shadow Secretary of State for Health Ann Widdecombe told the party conference that she wants a further year of debate on the future of health care.

She said: “Labour whipped up expectations before the election. They led the British people to believe that, when it comes to our Health Service, they can have it all and have it on the cheap. This is just not possible. New technology and clinical advances mean that our Health Service just can’t do it all with limited funding. So I want to explore new and imaginative ways of bringing additional new resources into health care.

“I want to look at new ways of co-operating with the private sector. At the same time, though, I want to ensure that our Health Service remains a national service, comprehensive, and available to all regardless of the ability to pay.

“Nurses are at the heart of our Health Service. We want to value the essential contribution they make to patient care. It’s not just about pay, but about acknowledging all the issues surrounding their recruitment and retention. And I want to restore the visible leadership of the Matron, and all that she represented.

“I am not intending to deliver precisely defined policies at this year’s conference. This year is about listening. It’s about starting the mature debate, and learning from everyone who values the vital role our Health Service plays in the fabric of our nation.”Visit the conference website at: