With the general election looming on the horizon, all three major parties have been busy creating and dividing opinion on various aspects of life in the United Kingdom. One of the major issues being talked about is the NHS, which could see marked changes made after the election is over. This week, we look at what the big three parties are planning to do with the NHS, and whether these decisions will work.
The Lib Dems are pledging a gargantuan annual spending increase of £8billion, as part of the NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. Particular attention is to be spent on mental health and wellbeing facilities, with an extra £500million planned for that sector alone. The Lib Dems wish to create a line of communication not just regarding health issues, but the wider issues of public sector reform and an increase of local control.
The Lib Dems also want to hand more control back to local authorities, loosening the red tape involved in tendering services, and also giving extra funding to help create simpler joint commissioning initiatives.
Surprisingly, the Conservatives rate the NHS low on their list of priorities, rather focussing their attentions on the economy. It appears as though the main aim for the Conservatives regarding the NHS is simply not to lose any voters, rather than gain more with radical promises of reform.
Chancellor George Osborne has stated that he plans to increase the spending to the NHS in line with inflation. He is quoted as saying that there will be funding of, “£2 billion every year to the front line of the NHS. Not money that busts our plans, but extra money that is available because we have a plan. That is a down-payment on the NHS’s own plan, proving definitively for anyone in any doubt that we cannot have a strong NHS without a strong economy.”
Of all three parties, Labour appear to have put the most focus on NHS reform as part of their plan should they win the election. In January they announced a ten-year plan for health and care which stated a desire to stay away from competition for NHS contracts. Labour also have huge plans for NHS recruitment, aiming to hire 20,000 nurses, 8,000 GPs, 3,000 midwives and 5,000 home-care workers. Labour are planning to pay for new hires with money procured through higher charges for tobacco companies, a crackdown on tax avoidance and the proposed mansion tax.
Regardless of who wins the election, NHS reform is on the cards in some way. In terms of physiotherapy, it remains to be seen whether funding from these proposed initiatives will make its way into the realm of occupational physiotherapy. With a lot of focus on building the economy, ergonomics and in-house physiotherapy could prove a valuable aspect for investment, as it can keep staff at work for longer, lessening their need for sick days and increasing the health of the economy and its inhabitants.
11th March, 2015