David Cameron: Day one
It's still August, just, but David Cameron is back at work today and clearly determined to try and get back on top of the agenda. Today, he's launching a campaign to try and guarantee the survival of 29 district general hospitals. The Conservatives claim that these are under threat of losing their A&E departments and, or, their maternity units.
Now looking through the dossier of evidence of planned closures that they've provided us with, it varies in how certain the plans are to go ahead. Some - for example, the Royal County in Surrey - has a consultation about to start, but no decision has yet been made. At another - the Queen Mary in Sidcup - the potential closures are not official but proposals have been revealed in a leaked e-mail. So they are not always talking about departmental closures that are set in stone.
Even though a significant quotient of expert opinion believes that it does make sense to downsize some local hospitals and concentrate resources on bigger sites that can provide a whole range of specialist care, local communities are often prepared to fight tooth and nail to keep their district generals intact. And campaigns can spring up with the first whiff of potential cutback or closure.
David Cameron knows this and wants to associate himself with the vigour and energy of these local grassroots activists. Politically, it could be very fertile ground. There is an independent MP Dr Richard Taylor, and
an MSP in the Scottish Parliament (thanks Tom) former MSP Dr Jean Turner, who both fought and won election campaigns based on the battle to keep hospitals open. After a tricky few weeks, and talking tax last week, this fight on health service territory refocuses Mr Cameron's party in the political centre.
I'm off to Worthing Hospital later in the day where a local campaign is up and running. When Mr Cameron visits some district generals in the area I hope we'll hear more about what he would do about them - and we'll see how the Labour party responds to his claims.