Prime minister Tony Blair used his speech at the Labour Party conference to hammer home the government's plans for the NHS, should it win a second term.

He promised to honour waiting-list pledges, recruit 10,000 more nurses and modernise every accident and emergency department which required improvements.

Mr Blair said July's NHS plan - 'drawn up by Alan' in consultation with the health service - was 'something this party can be proud of '. He spoke as health secretary Alan Milburn announced details of the drive to clean up NHS hospitals.

Eight trusts are to act as 'models of good practice in the NHS' which others can measure themselves against. NHS bank-style credit cards will be made available to ward sisters to enable them to spend new ward budgets of at least£5,000 more effectively.

Mr Milburn was due to address the conference in Brighton yesterday. If he does not announce details of the new modernisation board to push forward the plan, he will have missed its September deadline for creating the organisation.