We are committed to an NHS that delivers a comprehensive, universal, equitable, accessible service. It is vital that the NHS is publicly funded and publicly accountable.
Since 2010 NHS funding per person has dropped in real terms. £800 million over the last government has been cut. This must be reversed if we want a health service that is fit for purpose. We want to increase NHS funding by 4% in real terms and bring UK healthcare spending in line with the G7 average. NHS funding must then continue to keep up with need, rising with in line with UK population growth. The NHS is a vital service, it is right that it be funded by general taxation.
Privatisation, marketisation and private finance initiatives within the NHS have increased inefficiencies and costs. Since 1997, NHS infrastructure worth £11bn has been built under PFIs at a cost of £80bn, diverting money that should have been spent on patients to investor profits. These approaches create incentives to put profits over patients. We are committed to reversing privatisation and preventing any future PFI deals.
We want to see a more accessible NHS, one where patients are not put off, or turned away due to charges. A key founding principle of the NHS was access on the basis of need, not ability to pay, as such we must get rid of NHS prescription fees in England (they have already been eliminated in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).
Funding for mental health services has been cut in real terms for three years in a row, yet mental health problems account for 23% of the total burden of disease. Despite the existence of cost-effective treatments it receives only 13% of NHS health expenditure.
Mental health services must be funded appropriately to deal with demand and tackle unmet needs. To achieve this, we would rebalance the NHS budget to ensure mental health care receives the level of investment needed to improve outcomes and we would ensure that primary care staff are appropriately trained to deal with the mental health needs of their patients.
NHS staff are a vital and precious resource and we have to make sure they are able to do their jobs. It’s vital that doctors, nurses and other medical staff can focus on patient care; for this to happen they must have the proper level of administrative and logistical support.
We aim to abolish patents on drugs and instead fund research directly, allowing the NHS to reduce its outlay on costly medicines.
Health care has to work for everyone, as part of that we want to follow the lead of countries like Norway that have comprehensive LGBT public health plans with clear goals, and work to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS and normalise HIV testing as a routine part of caring for our health.
It is also wrong that we discriminate when it comes to giving blood. Donations from men who have sex with men should be lifted. The focus must be on individual screening and making sure as many people as possible can donate blood and save lives.
The NHS deals with the negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse and as such should take the lead in both research and providing advice in all areas of drug policy, from the medicinal use of marijuana to the impact or dangers of new recreational drugs.