Tories back Lift

NHS Lift schemes for new health centres will continue if the Conservatives win power next year, the PPP Bulletin can reveal.

Conservative shadow health minister Mark Simmonds said the schemes were making "a significant impact".

He told a gathering in Parliament: "There is no better example of private and public sectors working in harmony, working hand in hand for the benefit of patients, than the Lift scheme.

"A future Conservative government ... will continue the Lift scheme. We do think it's had a significant impact in many areas of the country."

The Tories were particularly attracted to Lift's ability to build a wide range of community facilities, including libraries and leisure centres, he said. The programme could "play an even bigger role in future" drawing together different funding streams and helping the NHS do more to prevent illness.

However, Simmonds warned that the Conservatives would give more commissioning power to GPs, who are often staunch opponents of Lift schemes.

And the programme would have to be "more flexible" and overcome public perception that it was just about building new health centres.

The endorsement stands in contrast to the Conservatives' stance on major hospital PFI schemes. Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has repeatedly attacked the cost of PFI projects and warned they could end up as 'white elephants'.

The Conservative leader, David Cameron, yesterday said the party would call a halt to all the planned hospital closures currently underway – some of which are a precursor to new PFI schemes.

“The Conservatives will stop these pointless, retrogressive re-organisations and closures," he said.

“We will stop further re-organisations of the NHS and implement a moratorium on the closures of district general hospitals and their A&E and maternity units."