Letters

Published: 29/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5916 Page 21

Further to your story headlined 'Managers write off Tory plans', (news, page 4, 8 July) I feel it is important to clarify a number of points.

The announcement made by myself and shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin follows recommendations presented to us by the David James team, appointed to give independent advice to the Conservative Party.

It identified up to£1.725bn of savings in the first instalment of its review of big government in the NHS. The savings are derived from the right to choose policy, particularly removing the commissioning function of primary care trusts in relation to elective surgery (initially) and all planned care (subsequently); the abolition of strategic health authorities' central performance management functions, with their residual functions devolved to merged PCTs; a further reduction in the size of the Department of Health and a scale reduction in NHS quangos.

The Conservatives' right to choose is a policy that I believe will bring significant benefit to patients and all those who work in the NHS, extending choice to individuals and enabling NHS professionals to respond to their needs.Managers are among those most likely to realise that if functions change substantially, structures need to change, too.

I will examine carefully the initial findings of the David James committee and I hope to work with NHS managers and their relevant associations to establish how best the next Conservative government can implement the right to choose in the NHS.

Andrew Lansley Shadow health secretary