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Published: 17/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5982 Page 22

We asked the HSJ100 panel: the Conservative Party is currently electing a new leader. Would a stronger opposition have a positive impact on the health policy debate?

Maggie Clifton, management/research consultant There is no guarantee stronger opposition would have a positive impact. It could ensure proposals are subjected to more scrutiny, but there does not seem to be much difference between the principles of the government and the current opposition.

John Canning, GP and secretary of Cleveland local medical committee At present there is minimal opposition to the government, and this is unhealthy. The NHS is moving away from providing healthcare to commissioning it. A strong and healthy opposition should ensure the implications are not just measured against short-term gains, but consider the effect on longer term provision of local services Alan Jones, managing consultant, ajc healthcare The direction of health policy was largely set in the late 1980s. Labour has built on Tory policy and re-invented some of the Tory stuff. Centre ground health policy debate going forward under this government can be expected to remain largely 'undisturbed', regardless of who emerges as the next Tory leader.

Sarah Corcoran, associate director of clinical governance, Central Manchester and Manchester Children's Hospitals trust The stronger the opposition, the stronger the political debate. The problem with health debate is that it is often the 'hot potato' of the moment, so emotive subjects are used to score political points, rarely resolving the issue.