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The healthiest policies?

PUBLISHED: 13:42 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:51 25 August 2010

HEALTH policies are often the most emotive and complicated, but offer real insight into the ideological differences between the parties.

HEALTH policies are often the most emotive and complicated, but offer real insight into the ideological differences between the parties.

Both Labour and the Conservatives are comfortable promoting private businesses' inclusion into the National Health Service (NHS).

Liberal Democrats do not oppose private companies' involvement in the NHS but do wish to end any bias in favour of them by opening up tendering to other providers such as staff co-operatives.

It is only the Green party who wish to buck the privatisation trend by advocating reversing the sale of NHS services and hospitals to private companies.

The march against the closure of the A&E at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup (QMS) attracted high profile politicians including London mayoral candidates Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick, and Simon Hughes.

Already the neighbouring hospitals, the Princess Royal Hospital, Farnborough (PRUH) and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich (QEH) are feeling the strain.

But who will stop the department from being permanently axed?

Labour certainly won't and the Conservative health spokesperson told the Times that there is little they could do now it is closed.

When shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley visited Sidcup in 2008, he reiterated the moratorium policy when asked how Tories would do things differently.

Even though the Tories' manifesto pledges to "stop the forced closure of A&Es and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services", a health spokesperson for the Conservative party central office said their policy is still to hold a moratorium of any proposed changes.

They added: "If the local people and GPs want their A&E to stay open, it will."

It looks like residents will have to look at the main parties' other policies to help differentiate their positions on health.

Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative parliamentary candidate David Evennett said: "In Bexley, we have seen what Labour's promises on the NHS really mean, with the planned closures of accident and emergency and maternity departments at QMS.

"Labour seems more interested in bureaucracy than patient care. We can't go on like this.

"The NHS is our number one priority."

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup Duncan Borrowman said: "Here we can see years of 'Labservative' health policy coming to their natural fruition.

"QMS is being decimated, with cuts to key services, especially to A&E and maternity.

"This is thanks to Tory and Labour policies of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Public-private partnership (PPP) which have pulled money out of QMS to pay for private profit at hospitals in Farnborough and Woolwich.

"My priorities for health shall be to lead the fight to restore full service to QMS.

"I am totally committed to changing policy on how hospital investment is funded.

"The NHS is there to provide care to every British person, free at the point of delivery, not to create profit for multi-million pound businesses."

Labour's candidate for Eltham, Clive Efford, failed to respond to the Times' questions.

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