With the general election scheduled to be held on 8 June 2017, we round up the parties’ manifesto commitments that will affect primary and community care nurses, as well as the wider NHS.
The Conservative Party
● Increase overall spending on the health service by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years.
● Ensure that the NHS has the buildings and technology it needs to deliver care properly and efficiently. According to the Conservative manifesto, the NHS has been forced to use too many inadequate and antiquated facilities. The manifesto commits to enabling care to be delivered closer to home, by building and upgrading primary care facilities, mental health clinics and hospitals in every part of England.
● Ensure 140,000 staff from EU countries can carry on work in the health and social care services.
● Increase the Immigration Health Surcharge, to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students, to cover their use of the NHS.
● Hold NHS England’s leaders to account for delivering their plan to improve patient care. This means that, if the current legislation is either slowing implementation or preventing clear national
or local accountability, the government will consult and make legislative changes. This will include the NHS’s own internal market, which, according to the manifesto can fail to act in the interests of patients and creates costly bureaucracy. A Conservative government will review the operation of the internal market and, in time for the start of the 2018 financial year, make non-legislative changes to remove barriers to the integration of care.
● The Conservatives will expect GPs to provide greater access, more innovative services, share data and offer better facilities, while ensuring care remains personal – particularly for older and more vulnerable people – with named GPs accountable for individual patients. A Conservative government would support GPs to deliver innovative services that better meet patients’ needs, including phone and online consultations and the use
of technology to triage people better so they see the right clinician more quickly.
● To help the NHS provide exceptional care in all parts of England, a Conservative make clinical outcomes more transparent so that clinicians and frontline staff can learn more easily from the best units and practices, and where there is clear evidence of poor patient outcomes, we will take rapid corrective action. We will ensure patients have the information they need
to understand local services and hold them to account.
● A new model of social care funding. If assets are above £100,000 patients will have to pay until their value reaches that cut-off point (Theresa May later announced that there would be a cap on social care, despite it not featuring in the manifesto).
The Labour Party
● Develop a new model of community care that takes into account not only primary care but also social care and mental health, and increase funding for general practice to ensure patients can access the care they need.
● Ensure that autistic people are able to access the whole of their community and to put an end to social isolation. Labour will set the ambition to make the UK ‘autism-friendly’.
● Ensure that everyone with a long-term condition, such as those with diabetes, will have the right to a specialised care plan and access to condition-management education.
● Labour will commit to over £30 billion in extra funding over the next Parliament through increasing income tax for the highest 5% of earners and by increasing tax on private medical insurance. A Labour Government also will free up resources by halving the fees paid to management consultants.
● Introduce a new Index of Child Health to measure progress against international standards, and report annually against four key indicators: obesity, dental health, under-fives and mental health. A Labour government will set up a new £250 million Children’s Health Fund to support these ambitions. As part of
a preventative healthcare drive, Labour will increase the number of health visitors and school nurses.
● Scrap the NHS pay cap, andput pay decisions back into the hands of the independent pay review body. The party would also reintroduce bursaries and funding for health-related degrees.
● Halt and review the NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’, which are looking at closing health services across England, and ask local people to participate in the redrawing of plans with a focus on patient need rather than available finances
● Create a new quality, safety and excellence regulator – to be called ‘NHS Excellence’.
● Repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
● Ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the frontline. The party will also invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people. Labour will ensure that access to a counselling service is available for all children in secondary schools. Labour will also ask NICE to evaluate the potential for increasing the range of evidence-based psychological therapies on offer.
The Liberal Democrats
● An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue, which would be ringfenced to be spent on NHS and social care services.
● This additional investment would be directed to priority areas such as social care, primary care (and other out-of-hospital care), mental health and public health. According to the manifesto, this is the most efficient and effective way of spending these extra resources.
● In the longer term, the Liberal Democrats would commission the development of a dedicated Health and Care Tax on the basis of wide consultation, possibly based on a reform of National Insurance contributions, which will bring together spending on both services into a collective budget.
● Establish a cross-party health and social care convention, bringing together stakeholders from all political parties, patients groups, the public, and professionals from within the health and social care system to carry out a comprehensive review of the longer-term sustainability of the health and social care finances and workforce, and the practicalities of greater integration.
● Introduce a independent budget monitoring agency for health and care, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The Scottish National Party
● Increase the budget of NHS Scotland by £2 billion by the end of the current Scottish Parliament. An additional £1.7 billion will be invested in Scotland’s health and social care partnerships.
● Reform primary care and increase the share of the total NHS budget that is committed to it. According to the manifesto, this will support an increase in the numbers of GPs and nurses working in Scotland’s communities.
● Work with unions to submit evidence to the independent pay review body on the impact of pay restraint and ask it to make fair recommendations. The SNP states that should a UK Government continue to constrain pay in the next parliament, and therefore curtail the independence of the pay review body, the party will seek to work with health unions to explore the creation of distinct Scottish pay review arrangements.
● The manifesto states that losing access to the European Medicines Agency through Brexit means that there may be delays to new medicines becoming available in the UK, or new medicines potentially not being made available here at all. The SNP will call on the UK government to stay part of the European Medicines Agency so that access to vital drugs is maintained, and so that we can continue to participate in Europe-wide clinical trials.