Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron: My Son Ivan Has Taught Me Value of NHS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron: My Son Ivan Has Taught Me Value of NHS

Article excerpt


DAVID CAMERON today cited his experiences caring for his disabled son in an attempt to prove his personal commitment to the National Health Service.

The Tory leader said he had learned about the NHS "from the inside" during three years of caring for Ivan, who has cerebral palsy and suffers from epilepsy.

The emotive passage in a keynote speech was Mr Cameron's most explicit reference to his family for a political purpose. His speech was designed to change public perceptions of Tory policies on healthcare and he used it to make a series of dramatic policy announcements.

Mr Cameron today turned his back on Margaret Thatcher's flagship policy on the NHS by rejecting tax breaks for private medical insurance.

Instead, he firmly committed the Conservatives under his leadership to an expanding NHS, funded almost entirely by taxpayers and free to all.

But it was his highly personal comments in a section of the speech headed "Personal Commitment" that may convince some sceptical voters that he is serious.

There were rumours the Opposition leader's spin doctors had planned to bring Ivan, aged three, in front of the television cameras. That was denied but Mr Cameron came close by staging a photocall with the same NHS ambulance crew who Pledge: Mr Cameron and his son Ivan, who suffers from cerebral palsy drive him to school each day. Later, in his speech, he said: "I have a child who's not too well, so I've seen a lot of the NHS from the inside.

"In fact, in the last three years, I've probably spent more time in NHS hospitals than any politician apart from the few doctors in the House of Commons. I've spent the night in A&E departments and slept at my child's bedside.

"I've got to know the people who dedicate their lives to helping others."

Paying tribute to Ivan's ambulance team, he went on: "I've spent this morning with two people who work in the National Health Service: Jack and Doreen. They drive an ambulance, against "rationing" of expensive drugs like Alimta, for lung cancer, and Veclade, for myeloma. …

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