In the midst of the run up to the general election, the Labour Party has announced its manifesto, covering healthcare and NHS intentions.
As a part of the party’s promises, they pledge to invest in the NHS to “give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need.” Points of focus include increasing expenditure across the health sector by an average 4.3% a year, improving stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates, and providing an additional £1.6 billion a year to ensure new standards for mental health.
Further, the party plans to introduce a generic drug company, stating that if fair prices are rejected for patented drugs, they will use the Patents Act provisions, compulsory licenses and research exemptions to secure access to generic versions, as well as aiming to increase the number of pharmaceutical jobs in the UK.
The British Medical Association's (BMA) council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, commented on the promises, stating: “It is right that the NHS has taken centre stage in the Labour Party’s manifesto as their commitment to sustained investment is needed if we are to rescue our struggling health service.”
He continued, however, to say that the manifesto needs to “go further”, asking for a commitment “of firm action to once and for all reform the punitive pension taxation policies by scraping the annual allowance in defined benefit pensions schemes, such as in the NHS.”
The manifesto also puts emphasis on creating a community-based, person-centred support system, “underpinned by the principles of ethical care and independent living.” On top of this, Labour promises to provide free personal care, beginning with investments to ensure that older people have their personal care needs met, with the ambition to extend this provision to all working-age adults.
Dr Chaand went on to say, “We support the commitment to end the competitive market in healthcare which has squandered huge sums of money away from patient care, expanded private sector provision and has fragmented services.
“We have consistently warned of the negative impact that air pollution is having on our health and the risk it poses to our children’s health. We therefore support the commitment to the introduction of a new Clean Air Act and urge that the next government accelerates efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions if we are to truly protect the health of future generations.
“Words alone will not fix the NHS. That is why it is important that whoever forms the next Government has the conviction to deliver on their promises.”
The UK’s general election is set to be held on the 12 December, two and a half years after the previous general election in June 2017.