Patients and public should have real say over local NHS say Conservatives
The next Conservative Government will give patients and the public real influence over the NHS, Bob Blackman, pledged this week. This is the key message from Conservatives’ new policy paper on the NHS. It calls for:
- Democratically-elected local councils to be consulted before any attempts to downgrade or close local NHS services, and ensure that councils are asked about their views on the future priorities of the local NHS.
- Ruling out any more pointless reorganisations of NHS services.
- Linking GPs’ salaries to the success of the treatments they deliver, whilst scrapping the targets imposed by politicians in Whitehall which distort doctors’ clinical decisions.
- Giving doctors and nurses a far bigger say in how budgets are spent.
- Local people to be directly involved in helping run local NHS services, by allowing them to become members of the NHS Trusts which provide local NHS services.
- Giving patients much greater choice over the care they receive, and providing new league tables showing which hospitals and surgeries perform the best, and more information on the prevalence of hospital superbugs.
- Creating a new, national watchdog consumer voice for patients – ‘HealthWatch’.
The policy recommendations sharply contrast with the sham consultations and ministerial meddling which have resulted in the closure or downgrading of so many NHS services all over the country. And, as a result of Labour’s nine reorganisations of the NHS – which have wasted £3 billion of taxpayers’ money and demoralised hard-working health professionals.
Bob Blackman explained,
“Under Labour, all Gordon Brown talks about is the fact he has raised taxes to European levels, but we have not seen anywhere near the improvement in NHS services which this extra money should justify. Our aim is more ambitious: using these levels of funding, we want to deliver to patients an NHS which is the best healthcare system in Europe. We want the NHS to focus on helping patients get better, not on helping politicians look better.”
The Conservative Prescription
The Conservative Party’s NHS White Paper, NHS Autonomy and Accountability, was published on 20 June 2007.
- Conservatives will write into law the underlying principle of the NHS that all people will receive universal access to a comprehensive health service based on need and not ability to pay.
- We will ensure that public funds for healthcare are devoted solely to NHS patients; we have ruled out subsidies to private healthcare.
- We will not sanction any more pointless reorganisations of the NHS. The proposals in our White Paper are based on existing structures.
- We will establish an independent NHS Board to allocate money where the NHS needs it, and not where politicians want it.
- We will abolish top-down, politically-motivated targets through which politicians have interfered in day-to-day clinical decisions.
- We will put real power – including NHS budgets – in the hands of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
- We will ensure that doctors and nurses are accountable to patients through greater patient choice, with patients empowered with more information on health outcomes.
- We will ensure that patients are backed up in NHS service planning by a strong, national patient voice: HealthWatch.
- We will make the NHS accountable to local councils for the structure of health services and the priorities of the local NHS.
- The Government will be responsible for establishing the framework in which the NHS operates and for setting overall NHS spending and objectives. It will ultimately be responsible for the outcomes of NHS care.
- The Government will be responsible for ensuring that patient choice and voice mechanisms are strong enough to hold NHS professionals accountable for quality and value for money.
- The Government will be directly responsible for the delivery of public health outcomes (i.e. the prevention of disease and the promotion of healthy living).