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Cameron hits back in U.K. election with pledge of 7-day National Health Service

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(Bloomberg) — David Cameron will offer voters seven-day-a-week access to specialist doctors if his Conservative Party wins the U.K. general election on May 7.

In a speech in Manchester on Saturday, the prime minister will promise that doctors working at the level of consultant are available on weekends, as well as during the week.

State-funded health care is center stage in the battle for the election, with polls showing the Conservatives and the Labour opposition are running neck and neck. Cameron’s pledge came a day after Labour leader Ed Miliband vowed to limit the margins that private companies can earn from the National Health Service and award them fewer contracts.

See also: U.K. health workers announce strikes as pay dispute escalates

“Illness doesn’t respect working hours,” Cameron will say, according to his office. “And the truth is that you are actually more likely to die if you turn up at the hospital at the weekend. Some of the resources are not up and running. The key decision makers aren’t always there.”

Mortality rates are currently 16 percent higher for people admitted to hospital on a Sunday than for people admitted on a Wednesday, according to the Tories.

Miliband said Friday Labour would impose a 5 percent profit cap on private companies working in the NHS, stop them “cherry picking” simple treatments and end their contracts if they fail to deliver high-quality care. The pledge wouldn’t cover local doctors, who are all independent operators, or pharmaceutical manufacturers.

On current polling, neither the Tories nor Labour are on course to win a majority of seats in Parliament and both would have to rely on smaller parties to form a government.

 

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