NHS e as eleições
The UK's National Health Service is a top priority for voters ahead of the general election in May. What are the key political parties pledging for the health service? Emma Wilkinson reports.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) is always a political hot potato, but with patient satisfaction at a record high in 2010, it was not top of the agenda ahead of the last general election. Fast forward 5 years and the continued fall out from the Coalition Government's Health and Social Care Act, rising pressures, falling staff morale, and growing financial problems mean that health and the NHS are likely to dominate in political debates in the run up to the UK general election on May 7.
The Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition is defending a tough record. Although the NHS purse has largely been protected, at least in relation to other parts of the public sector, the health service has in essence had to manage on a frozen budget. In his politically astute Five Year Forward View for the health service, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said although the NHS has managed to deal with a larger, sicker, older population with flat funding, “service pressures are building”.
And the cracks are starting to show. The past year in particular has seen patients unable to get appointments, emergency departments struggling to cope with demand, and an increasing number of trusts failing to balance the books.
There remains a great deal of anger over the NHS Health and Social Care Act, passed in 2012 with a majority of 88, bringing in its wake a change in structure so large it was “visible from space”, as the then NHS chief executive David Nicholson famously described it.
The Act paved the way for a greater role for competition and the private sector, an issue that politicians will be at loggerheads over in the coming weeks. Not least as it is the first general election to involve the National Health Action (NHA) Party—founded 3 years ago to campaign against privatisation of the NHS and cuts in funding.
Yet, unless they work in the NHS, the electorate might largely be unaware of these mostly behind-the-scenes organisational issues. The topics they will of course care about are access, quality of care, safety, and funding.
Several polls have pointed to the NHS being a top issue, including one BBC survey of more than 4000 adults, which placed it higher up the agenda than the economy or immigration.
Lancet 21.03.15 link
Labour’s 10-year plan for health and care link
NHS FIVE YEAR FORWARD VIEW link
Liz Kendall believes Labour has to show voters it can reform public services when finances are tight. link
THE ANDREW MARR SHOW INTERVIEW: JEREMY HUNT, MP HEALTH SECRETARY APRIL 27th 2014 link
Our priorities for the next government link
How is the NHS performing? link