The 2015 general election
The forthcoming general election is one of crucial importance to the future of the NHS. Since the last election in 2010, in spite of promises to the contrary, the NHS has undergone massive and costly reorganisation and marketisation. Although widely recognised for many years as a highly cost efficient and effective service, we have seen it come under increasing strain. For example, there have been closures of some A & E departments and unsustainable pressures on others; severely overstretched ambulance services; wards unable to discharge patients because of a lack of district nurses and community services; and four out of five GPs fearing that their practice will not survive the next ten years.
In the Chancellor’s Budget speech on March 18th there was only a passing reference to the NHS, which some have argued was because the Conservatives have a plan “that dare not speak its name” involving further massive cuts. In any event, it’s never been more important to question your MP on their party’s plans for the NHS and to put pressure on them not just to reverse the damage that has been done in recent years but to prevent the NHS from moving towards a private insurance based system in future.
This section of the website hopes to help you to lobby your MP, or to decide on who to support with your vote, by providing information about the promises being made for the NHS by different political parties in England.
Patients4nhs is not aligned to any political party. The fact that we have given more space to some proposals than others reflects the fact that some parties have provided considerably more detail. We have had to edit the longer proposals (e.g. those of the Labour and Green Parties) but have provided links to websites where you can find full details (see also ‘Useful sources of information’, below).
You may also be interested to see that some organisations have developed a number of key pledges to ask your local MP to sign up to as a measure of their support for the NHS. The six demands drawn up by Keep Our NHS Public, for example, are
- End privatisation of the NHS and bring back government responsibility, ownership and accountability.
- Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and enact the Pollock-Roderick NHS Bill;
- End expensive and compulsory competition, reject the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) and reverse all foundation trust plans.
- Commit to 4% real terms annual increase in funding from taxation to provide a comprehensive, publicly provided, top quality NHS for all, safe staffing levels and fair conditions for staff.
- Halt harmful cost-driven NHS cuts and closures. Any service reconfigurations must be driven by evidence-based clinical need, not cost, and be subject to meaningful public consultation;
- Halt all new private finance initiatives (PFIs). Independent review of PFI deals with effective action to reduce unfair PFI debts.
Timetable for the election:
- Final budget before the election: 18th March
- Dissolution of Parliament, indicating five and half week election campaign: 30th March
- Election day: 7th May
Useful sources of information:
For brief but continually updated information on the main parties’ policies on health services, see http://election.kingsfund.org.uk/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAr9ymBRDdqYrH6Mj5170BEiQAcRUsi32jqIsR4czw6ZklvTTdo-4a_kq2umbKIodulwcXIg8aAn9A8P8HAQ and http://election.kingsfund.org.uk/pledges/
For different parties’ plans for spending on the NHS see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30796343. And for the questions the parties are avoiding, see http://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2015/apr/22/-general-election-nhs-funding?CMP=new_1194&CMP=
(updated April 2015)