We will end health service privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly-provided NHS. We will integrate the NHS and social care for older and disabled people, funding dignity across the board and ensure parity for mental health services.
The National Health Service is one of the outstanding achievements of the post-war Labour Government. The principle of a Government funded organisation that we all pay for through our taxes and National Insurance, providing health services free at the point of use, ensures that care is available to everyone regardless of income, when they need it.
It is the envy of the world and has been somewhat of a victim of its own success – in a good way! Medical advances in vaccination, diagnosis and treatment, mean that many of the illnesses and diseases that killed people in the 1940s have been eradicated or are able to be successfully treated today.
Better health means longer lives and people are living much longer today, but this has meant an increase in the number of elderly people who need caring for in their old age, as their health fails. The ‘baby boom’ of the 50s and 60s has also meant large numbers of older people, at a time when younger families are typically having fewer children, so there are fewer people in the workforce paying their taxes. The baby boomer ‘problem’ has been known about ever since they were born: they have needed more schools, more midwives, more college places, etc, throughout their lives, and now some of them are starting to need more care.
All of this, plus the development of new treatments, has meant the cost of the NHS has spiralled, and the government response to this has been to cut the funding and to try to make the NHS more efficient by imposing a restructure; whilst reducing the numbers of beds, nurses and hospitals. http://www.nhsconfed.org/resources/key-statistics-on-the-nhs
They have been trying to force a new contract on doctors which will pay less for more work. They are starting to restrict certain treatments – this varies by region due to the new Clinical Commissioning Groups in each area. They decide on what treatments are funded locally, which could mean a condition being treated in one area but not another: in effect a postcode lottery. And they buy those services from any provider.
We’ve all seen examples of the horrendous queues at hospitals, or people being left on trolleys in corridors for hours, with life and death decisions having to be made on the basis of whether there is a bed available, as opposed to clinical need.
At the same time as all the pressures are increasing on the NHS, the government is pressing on with privatising it. So instead of all of the funding going to provide services, some of it will go into the pockets of the shareholders of companies (such as Richard Branson’s Virgin, which is winning contracts to deliver health care up and down the country).
The more services are privatised, the less money goes into the NHS, and so the more it struggles to make ends meet. And so that free access to service at the point of need becomes threatened.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour pledge on the NHS is very clear. The process of privatisation will be reversed, and services taken back into the NHS, which is not for profit. This means all of the money can be spent on health care. The need for social care is intrinsically linked to health care, and so the new services will be linked to provide a seamless service for people which is responsive to their needs and where the two sides work together to make the best use of resources, and therefore provide the best care for the patient. The need for access to quality and timely mental health support services, alongside either health or social care, means that there would be a truly integrated NHS/Social Care/Mental Health service which is essential to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
The basic ideal of the Labour Party is that it is the responsibility of a civilised government to care for its citizens’ basic needs. The contract is that those of us who can, will work and pay our taxes to enable this to be provided for everyone. Most of us at some time will need healthcare, many of us will need social care. Labour’s pledge on health and social care ensures that when that time comes, the help you need will be there, without charge.