Friday, 3 April 2015

Answering my mail: The NHS

Like every candidate I've had scores of e-mails about the NHS. (Thanks 38 Degrees!) Every one expresses fears about its future under the coalition. They think that the creation of an internal 'market' (by Labour) and the obligation to allow private firms to bid for contracts (by the coalition) will worsen service, cause fragmentation of the NHS and ultimately lead to more charges to patients. Perhaps, ultimately, to a US-style insurance system.

One correspondent listed six relatives who had suffered major medical problems. I sympathise - I owe the lives of my wife and one daughter to its work.

I don't think our fear of privatisation is paranoid. It's what Nigel Farage wants (which probably doesn't matter) but also what some Tories want (which may). So I've been happy to share my principles for the NHS:

  1. I support the NHS as a public service that should be firmly in the public sector. If elected I would support the NHS Reinstatement Bill, promoted by Green MP Caroline Lucas, whose purpose is to reverse the current drive to privatise the NHS.
  2. I would stop further service contracts from being given to private businesses in all but the most exceptional circumstances. I have attended meetings of the local Clinical Commissioning Group to speak against privatisation.
  3. I am, like the rest of the Green Party and unlike the mainstream parties, opposed to TTIP. I would vote against it.
  4. I would certainly vote more money for the NHS.
My immediate priorities, if elected, would be to address the problems created by ideological meddling by the last two governments. I would also want to sharply increase the work done on disease prevention. In the longer term I believe we need to rethink the relationships between the NHS and local authorities, especially in the care of the elderly.

You can find the party's full health policies at It's worth stressing that Greens see health as more than the absence of disease and health policy as being as much concerned with diet, exercise, housing and working conditions as with healthcare in the usual sense.

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