The NHS is being rebuilt not privatised, Tony Blair told his last Labour party conference as prime minister.

The NHS is being rebuilt not privatised, Tony Blair told his last Labour party conference as prime minister.

Mr Blair said that reducing waiting times to 18 weeks would give the government 'the right to be custodian of our public services for the next generation'.

The use of independent treatment centres to reduce waiting times was not damaging the NHS, but 'fulfilling its promise'. He described current changes in the NHS, including the largest ever hospital building programme, as 'the NHS being rebuilt not privatised'.

But he said 'the Google generation' expected to be able to shape their own services.

Change would happen regardless of Labour policy, he said.

'If we fail to introduce change, then, believe me, change will still be done but in a regressive way by a Conservative party,' said Mr Blair.

Radical welfare reform was vital not to destroy the welfare state, but to preserve it, and the prime minister won applause when he highlighted the Labour government's smoking ban coming into force next summer.