The Conservative party has not outlined any new measures to reduce bureaucracy in the NHS.
However, it claims that its NHS reforms have reduced waste and top-down management (despite recent figures showing a rise in managers) and the size of the QOF was substantially reduced in the 2014/15 GP contract (although this reduction in box-ticking was rather negated by the the introduction of the unwieldy unplanned admissions DES). They remain wedded to the CQC inspection regime the coalition introduced.
The Labour party has pledged to ‘stop the drive to privatisation of the NHS under David Cameron’ by repealing the Health and Social Care Act as one of its first acts of government. Labour’s 10-year NHS strategy promises to remove competition regulations on commissioners and give ‘preferred provider’ status to NHS bidders for health service contracts.
The party has also said it will cap private profit-making from high-value NHS contracts at 5% of contract value, with any subsequent profits paid back into the NHS budget. Any capping of profits will not apply to GPs.
The Liberal Democrats have stated that they will reform the NHS payment system to encourage better integration of hospital and community services and better preventative care for people with long-term conditions, should they come to power after the next election. The party has also previously claimed that it would repeal parts of the Health and Social Care Act that leave NHS services ‘vulnerable to privatisation.’
UKIP has pledged that it will make the radical move to scrap the CQC, revalidation and appraisals for GPs if the party is voted into Government in May.
The party said it wants to hand the CQC inspection role to new ‘county health boards’, led by a chairperson elected by local people. The party said it wanted to reduce bureaucracy and liberate doctors by abolishing ‘target chasing, revalidation and appraisal work’, although it has not clarified how this would work in practice.
UKIP has also said that it wants to make GPs write ‘fit notes’ for patients who are claiming sickness benefit as soon as they believe the patient is well enough to return to work and send these onto the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The Green Party has called for the NHS to be brought ‘back into public hands’ and to pledged to put an end to the privatisation of the health service, if it comes to power after the election. The party has also said it would repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
Scottish National Party
The SNP has vowed to vote against any further privatisation of the NHS in England and back any moves to restore it to a ‘fully public’ service.
Pulse reality check
Labour’s promise to repeal the competitionregulations in the Health and Social Care Act and re-introduce a presumption that NHS providers will be used will be welcomed by many, after witnessing the fragmentation of the NHS since the coalition’s reforms were introduced.
But it is rather disappointing that only one of the main parties has tackled the issue of the explosion of box-ticking and bureaucracy that GPs have to cope with. Scrapping CQC inspections, revalidation and appraisal could relieve a huge burden from the profession and enable that time to be used to improve patient care. UKIP is onto a winner here – perhaps the other parties should take note.