The Green Party manifesto calls for an end to privatisation of the health service via the NHS Reinstatement Bill. This would restore the responsibility of the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive service, remove the purchaser-provider split and return to a system of local or regional ‘Health Boards’ running services under a national framework.
We want to bring NHS funding back to 2010 levels with an annual uplift so it does not fall back in real terms. We can reverse the austerity cuts by taxing the rich – remember that 1% of the population own 50% of the nation’s wealth. We need decent public services to support the private sector and sustainable infrastructure such as warm housing, railways and renewable energy. It would also create a more equal society, which is good for health in its own right.
There needs to be a greater focus on primary care, share of funding for which has fallen steadily since 2005 and needs to be restored to at least 11% of the budget: we firmly believe that good community-based care for chronic and many acute conditions is better for patients and more cost-effective than hospital admissions.
The Green Party will implement recommendations of the Barker report by providing free social care for the over-65s to relieve pressure on health care and open up the way for integration of the two services. Merging health and social care when the latter is so poorly funded is a recipe for disaster.
We would boost funding for mental health, which accounts for a quarter of illness but only gets 13% of the funding. Children and young people have been particularly neglected and dementia in an increasingly elderly population is a huge challenge.
And the Green Party also want to restore a person-centred approach to service provision. This starts with respecting professional autonomy, which has been eroded by the introduction of targets, restrictive ‘pathways’ and performance-related pay. Gradually the whole ethos of public service has given way to the pressures of bean-counting. Administration has nearly tripled as percentage of NHS spending in the last 25 years (management and administration now counts for 14%). But the restrictions imposed by working in a market instead of a service, and the ‘demand failure’ created by patients making multiple presentations until they get the care they need is even more costly.
The Green Party will not sweep into power this May, but a handful of Green MPs could influence government (particularly if it was a minority government) to adopt some of the above measures.
Dr Jillian Creasy is standing as candidate for the Green Party in Sheffield Central and works as a locum GP in the city