The British Medical Association has published a healthcare manifesto outlining the priorities it believes should be at the heart of the 2015 general election.

The manifesto, Four steps to a healthier nation, reiterates a commitment to the NHS’ core principles of comprehensive, free at the point of care with equal access for all, highlights key issues such as funding, and encourages greater support and transparency in the delivery of patient care, the Association said.

Broadly speaking it outlines four key areas which it argues the incoming government must focus on to improve national health, based on the frontline experience of doctors. These are: to work in partnership with doctors to keep the NHS sustainable; support the medical workforce; improve public health; and assure the quality and safety of patient care.

On the first point, reforms need to be “underpinned by rigorous, independent evidence”, patient services must be shaped around patients' needs and expectations, and the NHS and social care must be left “free from further wasteful organisational restructuring”, it stresses.

Tackling inequalities

On the public health front, priorities include recognising the “lifelong burden of physical inactivity and poor diets” on the young by curbing the promotion and availability of unhealthy foods, and enshrining mental and physical health and wellbeing into social and economic policy “to tackle persistent inequalities in health”.

“Over the coming months, we will continue to work with our members, patients, politicians and policy-makers to flesh out how the incoming government should address these priorities to deliver a health service which remains the best in the world, both in terms of quality and value for money,” said BMA council chair Mark Porter.

The move follows last week’s publication of The 2015 Challenge Manifesto by a powerful coalition of health and care organisations that includes the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of General Practitioners, which calls on all political parties to publicly commit that they will not impose another top-down structural re-organisation of the NHS.