Election 2015: The parties’ pledges on the NHS

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Health reporter

It’s certainly one of the biggest services talked about by each party as they are vying to get our votes. NHS campaign group 38 Degrees has given a clear outline of the protection it wants for the NHS. With the general election looming, we take a look at what the five main parties’ priorities are for the NHS.

Each party has given a short introduction before outlining its main points.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem, Portsmouth South

OUR NHS is wonderful. There’s huge support for it and we need to make sure we absolutely give it our attention.

I could talk about the numbers and how we need to raise the £8bn needed, but I want to talk about people instead.

Here are the five main priorities the Liberal Democrats see for the NHS:

* We need to make sure we keep the NHS free at the point of delivery and roll back privatisation. For example St Mary’s Community Health Campus, in Milton Road, Portsmouth, is green-fenced for only the private sector to bid for services.

* We need to increase screening services for prevention.

We need to do more to catch diseases earlier.

* Need to support people with degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.

This support needs to reach out to their families too.

* Improve end-of-life services – everyone deserves to die with dignity and respect.

* The NHS shouldn’t just provide medical solutions, but also care for people.

Last summer my mother was in hospital (not QA) and while she had great medical care, I was shocked to see how poor the personal care was.

Penny Mordaunt, Conservative, Portsmouth North

AT QUEEN Alexandra Hospital we’ve now got 4,500 more operations, 65,000 more cancer treatments and 25,000 more CT and MRI scans happening than in 2010.

But there is more to do, especially in community care.

We will lead the world in fighting cancer, antibiotic resistance and finding a cure for dementia.

I know people sometimes feel it’s too big a challenge but I believe we can ensure everyone who needs access to services can get them and, with help from the professionals. I’ve got a plan of how we can do it.

*We have given the NHS budget an extra £7bn and we will spend whatever the NHS needs for its own plan – currently standing at £8bn extra.

* We will continue to integrate health and social care and provide extra care funding through the Better Care Fund.

* We will ensure everyone can see a GP seven days a week by 2020 and that older people have same-day appointments.

* We have legislated to ensure mental health is given equal priority.

* We will increase funding for mental health, provide more therapists and introduce new access and waiting time standards.

Sue Castillon, Labour, Portsmouth South

SOME of the people living in the poorest areas of Portsmouth die 11 years earlier than the wealthiest areas, and that’s why our Labour pledges will break the link between poverty and poor health.

Although the NHS here is managing to deliver a quality service, it is struggling with staff shortages.

Across the country Labour will recruit 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and we will invest £2.5bn per year over the parliament into the NHS, paid for by a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m, chasing corporate tax dodgers and a tax levy on tobacco companies.

* We will guarantee a GP’s appointment within 48 hours and one week to receive cancer test results

* Labour will be developing an integrated health service joining together NHS, social care and public health. We will place mental health at the heart of the NHS.

* We will develop whole-person health care packages easing that transition from hospital to home and the community.

* We will end the 15-minute slots for home care workers and recruit 5,000 new home care workers.

* We will repeal the Health and Social Care Act and scrap privatisation plans.

Ian McCulloch, Green Party, Portsmouth South

IMAGINE living in a clean environment, with satisfying work, good housing, a balanced diet, a good education, active, safe and sustainable transport, and much greater equality.

This wellbeing is so vital to good health.

Imagine being in no doubt the health service is publicly-funded, with free prescriptions, dentistry and chiropody.

A health service in which individual and local knowledge take the place of protocols and pathways, and free social and nursing care is provided for the elderly.

n The Green Party will end NHS privatisation. We will maintain a publicly-funded, publicly provided health service free at the point of use. Money spent on health will remain in the public economy, supporting the NHS rather than going into private companies’ profits.

*We will end health service austerity.

* We will act to prevent illness and expand primary and community care.

* We will restore a person-centred approach to the NHS.

* We will tackle the crisis of our time: mental health. It will take time to train more staff and expand services but the Green Party will put an end to mental health’s Cinderella status and achieve parity of esteem by 2020.

Mike Fitzgerald, Ukip, Portsmouth North

UKIP is completely committed to protecting the NHS and keeping it free at the point of delivery.

We are against the backdoor privatisation via subcontracting and the over-use of medical employment agencies.

Improvement is needed, but this will not come with chopping it up and giving private sector firms the most profitable parts.

The EU’s new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, due to come into effect in 2016, will open up the NHS to privatisation without the British public having a say in the matter.

The extra £12bn funding the NHS needs over the next five years would be found from reduced EU and foreign aid contributions, and scrapping HS2.

Ukip’s main five policies:

* Keep the NHS and fund 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 3,000 more midwives.

* Invest an extra £1.5bn to mental health and dementia services over the next five years.

* Scrap hospital parking charges.

* End ‘health tourism’ by ensuring those ineligible for free health care pay for their treatment as happens in their countries.

* Integrate health and social care under the NHS.

‘Politicians have the power to save the NHS’

OVER the past few years campaigning group 38 Degrees has been tenacious in its work to ensure any changes made to the NHS do not pass unnoticed.

But more than that, it wants to protect and maintain the NHS in the way most of us will know and love.

The national group got its name from the angle avalanches reach before they begin to tip and come crashing down.

It was set up in 2011 after the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011.

Last Saturday, 38 Degrees members in Portsmouth joined fellow members in high streets and town centres across the country in a show of strength as they took to the streets to gather signatures for a petition asking parliamentary candidates in next week’s election to look after the NHS.

The campaign saw members in south-east Hampshire talk to hundreds of voters about the importance of protecting the NHS at the general election.

As a result of their efforts to put the NHS to the forefront of candidates’ priorities, a total of 615,830 people nationwide have signed the Save our NHS petition – and the number of signatures is growing by the hour.

The petition was started in February.

In Portsmouth a total of 2,873 people have put their name to it.

The petition has three demands:

* To put a stop to the privatisation of the NHS.

* To make sure the NHS has the funding it needs to continue providing high quality healthcare.

* To protect the NHS from US health corporations by keeping the NHS out of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal being negotiated with America.

Sue Mullan, co-ordinator of the Portsmouth branch of 38 Degrees, has a simple message for candidates:

She says: ‘You politicians have the power to save the NHS.

‘We are sending this powerful message to make sure you understand how much we value our NHS.

‘The NHS really matters to us and it is with the NHS in our minds that we’ll cast our vote on May 7.

‘Our NHS is an incredible public service – free at the point of use, and available to everyone whenever we need it.

‘The NHS has been identified by international experts as the most efficient and cost­-effective health system in the world.

‘It makes no sense that some politicians are trying to hand huge sections of our NHS over to private companies.

‘The threat is very real ­ I don’t want any of my family to be cared for by profit­-driven companies.

‘This is why I’d encourage anyone who feels the same to vote on May 7 with the future of our NHS in mind.

‘The public deserve more than empty soundbites from politicians, in many cases without any explanation of how their promises will be funded.’

The 38 Degrees petition to save the NHS is at 38degrees.org.uk/nhs

Go to whatmatterstome.co.uk to see voters talking about their views on the NHS and other election issues