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TORY CONFERENCE: CAMERON INDICATES HIGH PRIORITY FOR SOCIAL CARE

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By LGC political editor Nick Golding at the Conservative party annual conference in Bournemouth...
By LGC political editor Nick Golding at the Conservative party annual conference in Bournemouth

David Cameron suggested that social care could be a key priority of a future Conservative government.

The Conservative party leader said the National Health Service would be his number one priority as prime minister stating that 'the world of healthcare extends far beyond the hospitals and GP surgeries.

'As we live longer and our society grows older, these services will play an ever-more important part in our well-being.

'Why can't we recognise that social services isn't a Cinderella service....for many people, it's the vital service that helps them enjoy some sort of quality of life.'

He called for stronger efforts to tackle community cohesion, mentioning the Cantle Report into the Oldham, Burnley and Bradford disturbances in 2001.

Mr Cameron, however, endorsed faith schools but said the Church of England's decision to admit a quarter of pupils from non-Anglican backrounds was 'a great example of what I mean by social responsibility.'

He said that environmental concerns would have to be balanced with the needs of younger people for new housing. 'If we want new homes, they must be built somewhere.'

Conservative party press release follows

Priority for the National Health Service

David Cameron has promised that the NHS will be safe in Conservative hands, if he takes the party back into power at the next election.

Delivering his keynote speech at the end of an upbeat Bournemouth conference, the party leader signalled his intention to make the National Health Service a key priority, and pledged that he will never cuts its funding - while making sure that the money poured in by the taxpayer is better spent.

Explaining that irresponsible tax cuts were not part of his agenda because of the need to maintain funding for the NHS, Mr Cameron hailed the creation of the service as 'one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century', and declared: 'The NHS is vitally important to every family in this country. It certainly is to mine. When your family relies on the NHS all the time - day after day, night after night - you know how precious it is.'

Citing his personal experience as the father of a disabled son, and echoing the famous ' the NHS will be safe in our hands' pledge laid down by Margaret Thatcher, he went on: 'So for me, it's not just a question of saying the NHS is safe in my hands. My family is so often in the hands of the NHS - so I want them to be safe there.'

Winding up the four day conference on a high note, the Party Leader recalled how Tony Blair prepared for Government proclaiming his priorities in three words: education, education, education, and then said: 'Well, I can do it in three letters: NHS.'

Making clear the Conservative commitment to key public services, Mr Cameron added: 'We will serve and support the National Health Service. We will never jeopardise the NHS by cutting its funding. But we will make sure the money is well spent.

'So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it. No more pointless and disruptive reorganisations. Yes change is necessary in the NHS. But that change must come from the bottom up: driven by the wishes and needs of the NHS professionals and patients.'

Mr Cameron also used his speech to address the critics who claim he lacks real substance. 'Facing up to real questions, and making clear where you stand, is what leadership is all about. I want to deal directly with the issue of substance. Substance is not about a ten point plan. It is about deeper things than that. It is about knowing what you believe. It is about sticking to your guns.

'It is about taking time to think things through, not trotting out the easy answers that people want to hear. It is about character, and judgement and consistency. It is about policy, yes; but it's about developing policy for the long term,' he said.

Read Mr Cameron's speech in full

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