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Coalition announces its new NHS and public health policies

The coalition government's new programme for government includes its plans for the NHS and public health.

On public health, the Cameron-Clegg adminstration 'believes that we need action to promote public health, and encourage behaviour change to help people live healthier lives. We need an ambitious strategy to prevent ill-health which harnesses innovative techniques to help people take responsibility for their own health.' They say they will:

  • give local communities greater control over public health budgets with payment by the outcomes they achieve in improving the health of local residents.
  • give GPs greater incentives to tackle public health problems.
  • investigate ways of improving access to preventative healthcare for those in disadvantaged areas to help tackle health inequalities.
  • ensure greater access to talking therapies.

MHF parliamentary officer Colin Penning said: 'this confirms the long-stated Conservative proposals for public health with a focus on outcomes and the Liberal Democrats’ local decision making with an emphasis on prevention.

'Whilst there few details, there is much here for us to welcome and to offer assistance with, including their investigation into ways of improving access to preventative healthcare for those in disadvantaged areas.'

NHS: expression of national values

On the NHS, the government 'believes that the NHS is an important expression of our national values. We are committed to an NHS that is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not the ability to pay. We want to free NHS staff from political micromanagement, increase democratic participation in the NHS and make the NHS more accountable to the patients that it serves. That way we will drive up standards, support professional responsibility, deliver better value for money and create a healthier nation.'

Specifically they will:

  • guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament
  • stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS, reducing duplication and diverting these resources back to front-line care.
  • significantly cut the number of health quangos.
  • cut the cost of NHS administration by a third
  • stop the centrally dictated closure of A&E and maternity wards
  • strengthen the power of GPs by enabling them to commission care on patients' behalf.
  • ensure a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT). The remainder of the PCT’s board will be appointed by the relevant local authority or authorities, and the Chief Executive and principal officers will be appointed by the Secretary of State on the advice of the new independent NHS board. This will ensure the right balance between locally accountable individuals and technical expertise. The local PCT will act as a champion for patients and commission those residual services that are best undertaken at a wider level, rather than directly by GPs. If a local authority has concerns about a significant proposed closure of local services, for example an A&E department, it will have the right to challenge health organisations, and refer the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. The Panel would then provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health.
  • give every patient the right to choose to register with the GP they want, without being restricted by where they live.
  • develop a 24/7 urgent care service in every area of England, including GP out-of-hours services, a single number for every kind of urgent care and by using technology to help people communicate with their doctors.
  • renegotiate the GP contract
  • extending NHS best practice on discharge from hospital, day care operations and reducing delays
  • help elderly people live at home for longer
  • prioritise dementia research
  • stop foreign healthcare professionals working in the NHS unless they have passed robust language and competence tests.
  • support doctor and nurses by giving front-line staff more control of their working environment.
  • strengthen the role of the Care Quality Commission
  • establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidelines.
  • enable patients to rate hospitals and doctors and require hospitals to be open about mistakes
  • publish online detailed data about the performance of healthcare providers
  • put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records.
  • create a Cancer Drugs Fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs their doctors think will help them
  • reform NICE and move to a system of value-based pricing, so that all patients can access the drugs and treatments their doctors think they need.
  • introduce a new dentistry contract that will focus on achieving good dental health and increasing access to NHS dentistry
  • provide £10 million a year beyond 2011 from within the budget of the Department of Health to support children’s hospices
  • encourage NHS organisations to work better with their local police forces to clamp down on anyone who is aggressive and abusive to staff.
  • give every patient the power to choose any healthcare provider that meets NHS standards, within NHS prices. This includes independent, voluntary and community sector providers.

Commenting on the programme, MHF CEO Peter Baker said: 'MHF is looking to the new government for an early indication of its commitment to address the poor state of men's health throughout its health policies. The government, laudably, wants to improve access to talking therapies - this must include reaching out to men who have so far been under-using these services. A new strategy to improve access to preventative healthcare in disadvantaged areas must also engage with men since it is men in these communities who have the worst health outcomes.'


Page created on May 22nd, 2010

Page updated on May 25th, 2010