Manchester: British Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off his re-election campaign today for May's tight poll by echoing his main rival with a new promise to improve the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
Cameron's centre-right Conservatives are neck-and-neck in opinion polls with the main opposition centre-left Labour, led by Ed Miliband, who says May 7's vote will be the tightest for a generation.
In a rallying call to activists at his Conservative party's spring conference in Manchester, northwest England, Cameron vowed to deliver a "truly seven-day NHS" providing a service as easy to access in the evenings and at weekends as on weekdays.
Polling by Ipsos MORI indicates that the NHS, which provides across-the-board care for Britons and is mostly free, is the most important issue for voters.
"For years it's been too hard to access the NHS out of hours. But illness doesn't respect working hours," Cameron said in a speech 40 days before the election.
"The truth is that you are more likely to die if you turn up at the hospital at the weekend."
He added: "With a future Conservative government, we would have a truly seven-day NHS."
The British Medical Association, the trade union for doctors, warned that the NHS was already at "breaking point" and that Cameron had not outlined how he would fund the plan.
Miliband kicked off Labour's campaign Friday by pledging to protect the NHS from what he claims is creeping privatisation under Cameron's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
He promised a new five percent cap on profits for private companies which take on NHS contracts worth over ?500,000 (680,000 euros, USD 745,000) and vowed to spend ?2.5 billion more than the Conservatives on the health service.
All parties have been electioneering since the start of the year but the campaign proper only got under way after parliament shut up shop on Thursday.
While the NHS is a key election issue, the Conservatives' main focus is on the economy, which has emerged from recession into growth under the coalition as Britain's deficit has been halved.