Health Policy in 2015: what are the levers for neurology?

April 22nd 2015 ...in category Healthcare News

April is the start of a new financial year for the NHS, but this year we are also on countdown for the general election.

The respective political parties have just launched their new manifestos detailing their proposed plans, should they be elected to government, but who knows what will happen in health policy if a new government is elected; will current policies stay the same? Our summary of the current political parties’ manifestos is here:

Conservative

The Conservatives are prioritising a truly 7-day NHS, from 8am to 8pm in primary and secondary care. They want to encourage investment in innovation and research in order to improve the national economy.

They will find funding for NHS investment through a strong economy.

Green

The Greens prioritise a publicly provided health service which is free at the point of use, with increased funding across the board, particularly in primary and community care, prevention and mental health.

They will find extra funding through increased alcohol and tobacco taxes, by extending standard rate VAT to less healthy foods, and through savings made in other parts of government.

Labour

Labour are prioritising 21st century joined up care and investment in extra staff to tackle long waits, shortages and increase contact time between professionals and patients.

They will find funding for NHS investment through a Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2 million, tackling tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco companies.

Liberal Democrat

The Lib Dems prioritise widespread reform and increased funding for mental health care, as well as bottom-up changes to improve and vary GP access through extra hours, new technology and incentives for care in the community.

They will fund their changes by scrapping the Conservative ‘shares for rights’ scheme, increasing dividend tax on the highest earners and tightening the cap on pension tax relief.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru prioritise equal access to healthcare across Wales by expanding community care, and ensuring cancer treatments and new medicines can get to patients quickly.

They will fund their plans by requiring NHS buildings to be energy efficient and through savings made in other parts of government.

Scottish National Party

The SNP prioritise a big increase in NHS spending in Scotland, and across the UK, as well as protecting the health service from privatisation in all parts of the UK.

The SNP will fund their plans through savings made in other areas of government.

UK Independence Party

UKIP prioritises putting the ‘national’ back into the NHS, with services provided by British people for British people, and to increase the numbers of clinical staff.

They will fund their policies by employing more full time staff instead of expensive locums, and reducing ‘health tourism’.

See below for eight key points from the health section of each party’s manifesto

Conservative

  • We will spend at least an additional £8 billion in England by 2020
  • We will ensure you can see a specific, named GP and receive the hospital care you need, 7 days a week by 2020, with same-day GP appointments guaranteed for all over 75s who need them
  • We will ensure that the Care Quality Commission rates all hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries, and ensure you can access full information about the safety record of NHS and independent providers, and your own electronic health records
  • We will enforce the new access and waiting time standards for people experiencing mental ill-health, and ensure that there are therapists in every part of the country providing treatment for those who need it
  • We will ensure that women have access to mental health support during and after pregnancy, while strengthening the health visiting programme for new mothers
  • We will support commissioners to combine health and social care services using the Better Care Fund, especially for the terminally ill so that more people are able to die in a place of their choice
  • We will help you make informed choices about your healthcare and support you to stay healthy, including taking action to reduce childhood obesity and promote clear food information
  • We will support fulltime unpaid carers and people struggling with addictions, and undertake a review to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions to get back to work

Green

  • We will immediately increase the overall NHS budget by £12 billion a year, and thereafter, increase the overall NHS budget annually in real terms by 1.2%, which will raise NHS budgets by about £20 billion by 2020, to take account of our ageing population
  • We will restore the NHS funding for primary care to 11% and review the case for increasing it further; we would also ensure that the distribution of funding reflects the local need
  • We would also provide accessible, local community health centres that provide a wide range of services, including out-of-hours care and always consider whether services currently offered in or by hospitals could be transferred to the community
  • We will ensure that no one waits more than 28 days for access to talking therapies, and that everyone experiencing a mental health crisis should have safe and speedy access to quality care 24/7, with access to a mental health bed in their local NHS Trust area
  • Provide the right to an assisted death within a rigorous framework of regulation and in the context of the availability of the highest level of palliative care
  • We will invest in dementia services, ensuring that support is available for patients, families and carers
  • Introduce a regime of presumed consent for organ donation, which respects the right of relatives to refuse consent
  • We will achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health by 2020, with higher priority given to the physical healthcare of those with mental health problems

Labour

  • We will recruit 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives
  • We will guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and on the same day for those who need it
  • We will guarantee that patients wait no longer than one week for vital cancer tests and results by 2020
  • We will set out a strategy to ensure that the great majority of patients can access talking therapies within 28 days, and that all children can access school-based counselling if they need it, with mental health being given the same priority as physical health
  • We will guarantee every woman personalised, one-to-one care from a midwife during labour and childbirth
  • We will cap the profits of private companies involved in providing clinical services to ensure resources are spent on patient care, and will stop the drive towards privatisation
  • We will integrate health and care services into a seamless system of physical, mental and social care with a single point of care and a tailored personal care plan for vulnerable older people, disabled people and those with complex needs
  • We will prioritise action to improve care quality and patient safety, with every hospital death subject to an appropriate level of review

Liberal Democrat

  • We will raise the NHS budget in line with economic growth, so that it will be getting at least an extra £8 billion a year by 2020, with money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too
  • We will commission a non-partisan Fundamental Review of NHS and social care funding in 2015, and will repeal any parts of the Health Social Care Act 2012 which make the NHS vulnerable to forced privatisation through international agreements
  • We will ensure that by 2020 every carer will get a £250 bonus, once a year, to take a break, as well as a carer’s passport to give them the support they need
  • We will increase mental health spending by £500m a year by 2016/17, with £250 million put into care for women with post-natal depression; we will also prioritise talking therapies and introduce two- and six-week access and waiting time standards for mental health treatment
  • We will build integrated care services that fit around people’s lives, with more personal budgets and choice in GP access, with more practices open at evenings and weekends and offering phone and Skype appointments
  • We will also introduce a Patient Premium to encourage GPs and other community clinicians to work in disadvantaged areas, and will reform the NHS patient system to incentivise more care out of hospitals
  • We would adopt a bottom-up approach, asking GP practices to come together in federations to improve access for patients, learning from and building on the current GP access pilots
  • We will guarantee equal care and support for everyone with mental health problems, with genuine parity of esteem between mental and physical health

Plaid Cymru

  • We will train and recruit 1,000 additional doctors to work in the Welsh NHS and will provide training in Wales for more doctors, paramedics, nurses and other professional healthcare workers
  • We will integrate health and social care, to ensure that our community health services are based on the needs of the patients and to remove unnecessary paperwork
  • We reject the marketisation and privatisation of the NHS and will oppose any moves in that direction from governments in Westminster and Wales
  • We will keep free prescriptions in Wales and will introduce a New Medicines and Treatments Fund for treatments not ordinarily available for patients on the NHS, with decisions applying nationally across Wales
  • We will increase access to talking therapies, and fund support for eating disorders, and drug and alcohol treatment, as well as increasing resources for young people’s mental health services
  • We will make sure that people can receive healthcare and support from the NHS in their own home or community by protecting and promoting the district nursing service, and developing specialist services as required for people with particular needs
  • We will develop a national workforce plan to ensure that there are sufficient healthcare staff in all parts of Wales, and will invest in hospitals, ambulances and air ambulances to ensure rural patient access
  • We support a tax on sugary drinks, and will introduce better tobacco regulation, including stricter marketing rules on e-cigarettes, and a 50p minimum price per unit on alcohol sales

Scottish National Party

  • We will vote for an increase in NHS spending across the UK of £24 billion by 2020-21 – £9.5 billion above inflation – with a boost to the NHS Scotland budget of £2 billion by 2020-21
  • We will vote against any further privatisation of the NHS in England and back any moves to restore it to a fully public service
  • We will support an increase in Carer’s Allowance so that it matches Jobseekers' Allowance
  • We will provide £300 million over the next three years for the Integrated Care Fund and £30 million for telehealth in order to help keep people safe in their own homes for as long as possible
  • We will seek to increase our investment in the mental health innovation fund to £100 million over the next 5 years, with resources directed towards projects that will improve primary care mental health treatments and child and adolescent mental health services.
  • We will invest a further £100 million over the next 3 years to help tackle delayed discharges in our hospitals by ensuring more spaces are available for hospital admissions and enabling boards and local councils to deliver quality care for people where they live
  • We will invest an extra £40 million for new medicines
  • We will invest more in specialist nursing care, with a commitment to new spending of £2.5 million, with the first allocation going to support patients with motor neurone disease

UK Independence Party

  • We will put an additional £3 billion a year into the NHS in England by 2020 and make sure the money is spent on frontline patient care, and we will increase mental health funding by £170 million annually, phasing this in through 2017
  • We will invest £200 million to make parking at English hospitals free for patients and visitors, and will be investing an extra £130 million a year into researching and treating dementia by 2017
  • We will train and employ 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives, as well as funding return to practice training and waiving university tuition fees for new medical students who work in Britain for five years after qualifying
  • We will initiate pilot programmes in English hospitals to put GPs on duty in A&E departments seven days a week
  • We will insist migrants and visitors have approved medical insurance, with only permanent residents who have paid UK taxes for at least five years qualifying for full free treatment
  • We will abolish Monitor and the Care Quality Commission and replace them with county health boards made up of health and social care professionals elected locally by their peers
  • We will improve NHS services by scrapping at least two EU Directives: the EU Clinical Trial Directive and the EU Working Time Directive
  • We will improve mental health services by offering direct access to specialist mental health treatment for pregnant women and mothers of children under 12 months, and fight the stigma around mental illness by supporting those seeking to get back into work

Read further commentary on how CCGs are currently managing neurology in the Neurological Alliance report, The Invisible Patients and see Sue’s article on this in British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing:

http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/10.12968/bjnn.2015.11.1.48

About the Author


April 22nd 2015
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