NHS becomes key battleground for rival parties

The NHS has become a key election battleground with a Conservatives pledge of an extra £8 billion a year for the NHS in England by 2020. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have attacked the announcement as an "unfunded" spending commitment.

Meanwhile, Labour is pledging one-to-one midwife care for every woman during childbirth as it launches its health manifesto.

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Farage 'strong argument' for rationalising 43 police forces

Nigel Farage Credit: PA Wire

Ukip leader Nigel Farage told supporters there was a strong argument for "rationalising" the 43 police areas.

On the campaign trail in Essex, Mr Farage said: "What we think is there there is a strong argument for rationalising the 43 police areas that exist at the moment, for bringing some of them together in bigger units and in doing so reducing some of the cost of bureaucracy."

Poll: Tories stay ahead as Ukip support slumps to two-year low

The Conservatives took a two percentage point lead over the Labour party while support for Ukip fell in a new opinion poll.

The online poll of 1,916 adults put the Conservative Party up three points on 36% and the Labour Party up one point on 34%.

Meanwhile support for Ukip fell three points to 11%, the lowest level in the poll since 2012, while the Liberal Democrats were unchanged on 7% and the Greens were down one at 6%.

Opinium Research surveyed 1,916 adults online on April 8 and 9 for the Observer newspaper.


Your first name 'may indicate who you will vote for'

Research by YouGov suggests that your first name could indicate how you might cast your vote in the election in May.

Those named Charlotte, Fiona and Pauline are more likely to vote Conservative while Sharon, Samantha and Clare are least likely to vote for the party, the research found.

Research by YouGov suggests that your first name could indicate how you might cast your vote Credit: PA Wire/YouGov

Meanwhile those named Michelle, June and Andy were found to be most likely to vote for Labour while Nigel, Nick and Jonathan are least likely to vote for them.

Tim, Kathryn and Samantha are most likely to vote Liberal Democrat, according to the research, while those named Lynne, Joan and June are least likely to go for the party.

Finally the survey shows those with the first name Jill, Nigel or Terry are most likely to vote Ukip, while people named Tom, Rachel, and Alan are most unlikely to vote for the party, according to the findings.

Farage: Labour-Tory battle over NHS 'a game of poker'

Nigel Farage

Ukip leader Nigel Farage described the Labour-Tory battle over the NHS as a "game of poker" in which whatever one party says, another party raises it.

He told Sky News: "It's all well and good to talk about an extra £8 billion by 2020, but there has been absolutely no suggestion provided as to where the money is going to come from.

"The real problem the NHS has got is that our population is rising so rapidly that we find ourselves desperately short of enough GPs and A&E facilities.

"If we were to keep our population at a reasonable number, I suggest it might be easier to keep the NHS free at the point of delivery."

Ed Miliband: 'You can't fund the NHS on an IOU'

Labour has accused the Conservatives of trying to "fund the NHS on an IOU" after their pledge to increase spending by £8 billion a year by 2020.

Ed Miliband launches Labour's health manifesto Credit: Pool

Launching Labour's health manifesto in Guiseley,West Yorkshire, Ed Miliband said: "The truth is that you can't save the NHS if you don't know where the money is coming from. You can only damage the NHS when you are planning colossal cuts in public spending, year on year on year, which is what Tories are planning."

“The bottom line is this: you can't fund the NHS on an IOU", he added.


Jeremy Hunt: We can fund extra money for NHS

The Health Secretary has insisted the Conservatives can fund their pledge to inject an extra £8 billion a year into the NHS by 2020.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have attacked the announcement as an "unfunded" spending commitment.

Jeremy Hunt has defended the Tories' pledge to invest £8bn extra a year in the health service by 2020. Credit: ITN

By 2020.. we'll have a million more people over 70 and Conservatives want to make sure every single on of them is treated with dignity, respect, the kind of care we would all want for our parents and grandparents. We can fund that extra money for the extra doctors and nurses to do that because we've turned around the British economy, a thousand jobs being created every single day, all those jobs are people paying taxes, their companies who are paying taxes and we can have the confidence with that economic plan that we can put resources into the NHS.

– Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Lib Dem health minister: 'The NHS needs hard cash'

The future of the NHS is a key battleground ahead of the general election. Credit: PA

Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb has accused the Tories of "trying to pull the wool over the British public's eyes".

He added: "It's easy to say you want to support the NHS, the difficult part is saying how you will pay for it.

"As Nick Clegg said, the NHS doesn't need warm words, it needs hard cash.

"The Liberal Democrats are the only party who have committed to giving the NHS the £8 billion it needs and have set out how we will pay for it.

"Tory spending plans will not help the NHS but rather destroy vital public service and decimate basic entitlements."

Osborne: 'We commit to deliver what the NHS needs'

George Osborne insisted the Conservatives are committed 'to deliver what the NHS needs'. Credit: PA Wire

The Chanceller has pledged an "absolute commitment" to the NHS as the Tories unveil plans to increase spending by £8bn a year by 2020.

Writing in the Guardian, George Osborne said: "We back the NHS's plan, but there's no point having a plan without the funding to deliver it, so today we commit to deliver what the NHS needs. Decisions about spending go to the heart of our politics because they reflect our values.

"We in the Conservative Party are in no doubt about our approach: the NHS is something precious, we value it for the security it provides to everyone in our country, and we will always give it the resources it needs."

Sturgeon: SNP 'only party with funded plans for NHS'

Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP “is the only party to put forward funded plans for the NHS across the whole of the UK, meeting the £8 billion challenge in England and providing a total increase of £2 billion for Scotland's NHS".

"Without genuine additional funding these Tory plans will see cuts to services like social care, police and local government - all of which are vital in keeping the pressure off the NHS", she added.

Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is critical of Tory and Labour plans for the NHS Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

"This is a clear illustration of why Tory austerity must end if we are to properly protect our public services.

"Meanwhile, Labour's failure to commit to match our NHS spending plans for Scotland is another reason why voters are backing a strong team of SNP MPs to protect Scotland's health service."

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