Election 2017: Where the main parties stand on health and care

on June 7, 2017

Image result for theresa may jeremy corbyn tim farron

What might decide the outcome of June 8th’s election is the political parties’ stance on the health and care sector. Policies on the NHS, residential care, mental health services will certainly have a big impact on how many people vote. As Thursday’s General Election approaches, Nilesh Patel has looked into the parties’ key pledges.

The future of the National Health Service is central to all three major parties’ manifestos, with the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats all promising to spend more money on the NHS. Here are a few key points which have been outlined by each political party:

The Conservative Party and health

Outlined in Theresa May’s party’s manifesto is an £8billion increase to funding the NHS, by 2022/23, from its current level.

While it hasn’t been made immediately clear where the money is coming from, the £22billion Sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) cuts programme will continue.

The Conservatives have promised “the most ambitious programme of investment in buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen”; with initiatives to pilot live online A&E waiting times and to ensure the 140,000 European Union staff “can carry on making their vital contribution” to our health and care system.

More specifically, improvement has been pledged to primary care facilities, hospitals and mental health clinics.

On mental health

On the subject of mental health, May has pledged a recruitment of 10,000 mental health professionals alongside the current 1,500 increase in students in medical training.

Also, the Conservative manifesto includes plans to create a new mental health bill, the first for 35 years, with the aim of putting mental health issues on an equal footing with physical health.

Appearing on Peston on Sunday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV that many people experience mental health problems, saying:

“We want to stop the fact that you can lose your job for that and suffer discrimination in a way that you would not be able to suffer now if you were disabled, [or had] other conditions.”

The party also said funding for mental health services is at a record level and will be up by £1.4billion in real terms by 2020.

Childhood obesity

While scrapping free school meals, the government launched plans to reduce childhood obesity over the next 10 years. The plan, introduced in 2016, set out action with the food industry, schools and the NHS.

The plan introduced a levy on soft drinks, where companies pay charges for drinks containing added sugar and an hour of physical activity everyday in schools whilst making school foods healthier.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have announced new rules for children’s media, banning advertisement of high fat, salt or sugar food or drinks from July.

Labour policies on health

Jeremy Corbyn’s party says they will spend an extra £37billion on the NHS in England over the next five years if they win the battle of number 10.

This included promises of a service “fit for modern day” practice amid last month’s NHS cyber attack.

The investment will include a £10billion upgrade to IT systems and reparation of buildings.

Unlike Conservative plans, Corbyn states the investments will be funded by tax increases and capital borrowing.

Another of Labour’s key pledges is a promise to reverse the Conservatives’ privatisation process and return health services into public control with the Social Care Act 2012 being repealed.

Other pledges include:

  • Access to treatment to be guaranteed within 18 weeks
  • Access to A&E treatment within 4 hours
  • Free parking at all NHS hospitals in England
  • The £22billion STP cuts programme will be reviewed and halted
  • A million people being taken of waiting lists
  • An end to mixed sex hospital wards
  • Scrapping of current 1% cap on pay rises for NHS workers
  • Protection of tuition free for nurses and midwives
  • Attacks to NHS staff will be an aggravated criminal offence

Implementing a National Care Service

A National Care Service will be implemented to provide quality care to the vulnerable members of society.

To combat the issue of unpaid carers of family, friends and the elderly Labour have pledged £3billion a year to “lay the foundations” of a National Care Service for England.

The new care service, while supplemented with the NHS, aims to improve the quality of social care available to the elderly, disabled and those suffering from vulnerable mental or physical conditions.

In addition, Corbyn has announced an £11 increase to Carers’ Allowance, to match the rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Jeremy Corbyn, accompanied by comedian and actor Steve Coogan and a performance from Clean Bandit, held a rally in Birmingham — Eastside’s Mike Smith covered the event with 360 degree video.

Liberal Democrat health policy

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has declared the NHS to be in a “state of crisis” due to under-funding and staff being underpaid or cut.

The Lib Dems have pledged to protect these vital services, funding them sustainably. Their immediate plan to contribute one pence of every pound of income tax aims to give the NHS and social care services the funding they need. They estimate this could raise £6billion additional revenue for the NHS.

In the longer term the party intends to commission the development of a dedicated Health and Care Tax, possibly on a reform of National Insurance contributions, which will bring together spending on both services into a collective budget.

They also aim to direct the additional investment to priority areas of the health care system including social care, primary care (out-of-hospital care), mental health and public health.

Healthcare staff

The Lib Dems have guaranteed the rights of all European Union nationals working for the NHS and social care services to stay in the UK.

They’ve also promised to end the pay freeze for NHS workers and reinstate student nurse bursaries.

Alongside this, their manifesto includes a policy of supporting innovation around how organisations can empower staff and patients to deliver a mental health service.

With regards to the strain placed on GPs due to under-funding and staffing, the Liberal Democrats say that if they are in power, there will never again be a shortage of GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other professionals that the NHS requires.

Farron and co. also pledge to protect any NHS whistleblowers.

A regulated cannabis market

The Lib Dems back the introduction of a legal, regulated market for cannabis. They argue that legalising and regulating the drug will deliver significant benefits to public health and take pressure off the criminal justice system.

If put in place, the market will control the pricing and potency of cannabis to over 18s.

Cannabis is currently a Class B drug, with a maximum sentence of five years in jail or an unlimited fine if found in your possession. In addition, those supplying or producing cannabis face tougher penalties, with up to a maximum of 14 years in jail.

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3rd year journalism specialist at BCU. Interested in writing articles about sport, business, entertainment and politics with local Birmingham angles.

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