The National Health Action Party

The National Health Action Party (NHA) argues that when the country invests in healthcare it not only reduces poor health and extends lives, but also creates a healthier workforce and contributes to economic growth.

Their health policy covers three main sections: the NHS, Public Health and Social Care.  Their arguments for their policies, and more details on their proposals for public health and social care are available at http://nhap.org/our-policies/health/. Here we outline just their NHS policies.

Restoring the NHS – Publicly Funded, Publicly Provided and Publicly Accountable

The NHA would

  • Restore the NHS to public ownership: publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable.
  • Restore the duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Health to provide universal and comprehensive healthcare in England, but with less political interference in the day-to-day running of the NHS.
  • Halt and reverse privatisation.
  • Abolish competition and the market in health provision with its associated huge and unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.
  • Reinstate the NHS as the preferred provider of healthcare and remove the requirement to tender out contracts to the private sector.
  • Replace the market with a system based on resource allocation, not commissioning. This system would enable effective planning of healthcare according to the needs of the population at local, regional and national level.
  • Implement the Pollock and Roderick NHS Reinstatement Bill as the best way to achieve this, as it not only repeals the Coalition’s 2012 Act, but also corrects previous legislation that created the market.

 NHS Funding – Increasing NHS funding

The NHA would

  • Call for real terms increases in funding for the NHS of at least 4% per year to match the healthcare inflation rate. This should be achieved in the short term by a 1p rise in the basic rate of income tax. This will raise £4.5 billion per year.
  • Use the savings from ending the market and halting privatization to boost funding for front line care.
  • Increase NHS funding to around 10% of GDP to bring it into line with G7 countries.

NHS Funding – Ending the Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

The NHA believe

  • No more PFI deals should be signed.
  • There is no legitimate reason why future infrastructure costs should not come from Government borrowing. The repayments come ultimately from the public purse and public borrowing is always less costly than private finance.
  • Urgent intervention is needed to prevent service cuts in NHS Trusts that have been financially undermined by the inflated costs of the Private Finance initiative, or in neighbouring Trusts.
  • The Treasury must force a full investigation of mis-sold PFI contracts, penalise those responsible and renegotiate onerous contracts on the basis of fair value, with the refund of excessive payments.

NHS Funding – Opposing Prescription Charges

The NHA call for

  • The abolition of prescription charges. This would bring England in line with the policy of the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Hospitals – Defending our hospitals

NHA policy is

  • To defend the District General Hospital (DGH) as a good model of care for the majority of people who need admission to hospital, ensuring access and equality.
  • To ensure networking of DGHs to larger specialist hospitals so that patients who need highly specialised care get access to specialised services.
  • For full equality impact assessment to be published before any hospital or service closures.
  • That reconfigurations of service should have local community and clinician support and be subject to a full consultation process.

Hospitals –  Safe staff-patient staffing levels

The NHA call for

  • Minimum staff:patient levels to be set for each specialty to ensure safe, quality care.
  • The implementation of a pay structure to reward NHS staff fairly for their skills and their work.
  • Salaries should rise in line with inflation. Terms and conditions of service should be protected.
  • The living wage, not the minimum wage, as the lowest rate payable in the NHS.
  • Improved recruitment and retention to prevent burn-out and losing staff outside the NHS, to create a sustainable workforce

Listening to patients and staff to improve the NHS

The NHA call for

  • The introduction of local independent health commissioners, accessible to patients, relatives and staff, in all major towns working under a new and specific Health Service Ombudsman.
  • The NHS Complaints Process to be patient-friendly and be used as a means to improve the NHS.
  • A reduction in the NHS and Department of Health dependence on management consultants and increase the influence of healthcare professional bodies, health staff and patient groups, and the restoration of responsibility for health planning to public health and clinical leaders.
  • The strengthening of the whistle blowing system that allows staff to identify and report their concerns about quality of care and patient safety without fear of recrimination.

Supporting Mental Health Services and ensuring “parity of esteem”

The NHA call for

  • The mental health funding plan to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
  • Increased staffing levels and an increase in training places for mental healthcare professionals.
  • An end to the privatisation of mental health service provision and its return to the public sector under the NHS.

Strengthening maternity services

The NHA would

  • Ensure a safe and effective service for women and their babies at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
  • Address staff shortages and training numbers.

Improving General Practice

NHA policy supports

  • The traditional model of British General Practice supported by primary care teams working in defined areas, distributed fairly and based on long-term relationships with patients and underpinned by the vital concept of continuity of care.
  • Improved access and thus continuity, with GP numbers to be increased by 10,000, in line with recommendations from the Royal College of GPs.
  • The freedom of GPs from pressures, particularly financial incentives, which could detrimentally affect clinical decision-making and could be at odds with the best interests of their patients.
  • The reversal of the cuts to general practice funding (nearly £1 billion in last 5 years), with
    • greater investment in premises and good GP-led local out-of-hours services, and
    • the reversal of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) cuts to ensure practices in deprived areas receive adequate funding.

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