What are the parties policies?
This part of the roundup is unashamedly stolen information from the BBC’s brilliant, brilliant ‘Policy Guide‘ (alpha order, mainstream parties for England as that’s where we’re kicking off The Care Locker):
Conservatives: pledge to increase NHS spending in England by at least £8bn above inflation over the next five years, to ensure seven-day access to GPs by 2020 and same day appointments for over-75s whenever needed, integrated health and social care and improved access to mental health treatments.
Green Party: pledge to increase the NHS budget by £12bn a year, ensure it’s fully publicly-funded, end privatisation and repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They will also make mental health a greater priority and provide free social care if needed. (I’m unsure exacly what this means
Labour: pledging an extra £2.5bn funding for the NHS, to pay for 20,000 more nurses, 3,000 midwives and 8,000 GPs, to repeal the Health and Social Care Act and cap the amount of profit private firms can make from the NHS at 5%, to integrate NHS health care and social care and end 15 minute care visits.
Lib Dems: pledging to increase NHS funding in real terms by at least £8bn a year by 2020, starting with an extra £1bn a year until 2018, to integrate health and social care budgets, to allocate and extra £3.5bn for mental health (including £1.25bn for children and teenagers and £250m for pregnant women and new mums with depression).
Do take a look at The Kings Fund election tracker as well – a great piece of work: http://election.kingsfund.org.uk/
So what’s to made of it all?
There doesn’t seem to be a whisker between the party pledges: The Nursing Times summed it up: the NHS workforce is at the heart of of so many of the pledges. The RCN seems to have had some effect when it issued its plea that politicians should IMPROVE patient care, VALUE nursing and INVEST in health and care. (Unison, the union for care workers, is somewhat more partisan: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/last-chance-to-make-sure-you-can-vote-in-the-election.)
With so many pledges around mental health, I was somewhat surprised not to find a FORMAL Mencap statement. Rather, they’ve:
1. let others have their say: https://www.mencap.org.uk/taxonomy/term/1430;
2. written up an election debate: https://www.mencap.org.uk/news/article/political-parties-quizzed-welfare-election-promises.
Age UK has similarly sought pledges, as has The Alzheimers Society but politicians haven’t cuddled up for the silver vote quite as strongly, it seems, on the social care front, although there’s been a lot of pension pledges (although I do realise that not everyone with Alzheimers is older, but hope you’ll bear with me for the purposes of this discussion).
The NSPCC has called on us all to put children at the heart of the election: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/fighting-for-childhood/campaigns/tell-election-candidates-childs-story/, although most electioneering around children’ws issues appears to have backfired for politicians.
Whichever way you vote, our care system is at the heart of the agenda. It matters. It affects lives, It affects our pockets. And for The Care Locker it’s our life blood.