Tag Archives: NHS

A brief summary of six policy areas

I recently found this website, which has profiles for candidates standing in the 2015 general election. For party candidates, it gives a brief outline of their policies in six areas: The NHS, Economy and Taxes, Immigration, Benefits and Pensions, Rights and Crime, and Environment. Under my profile, it had nothing listed for these. I contacted the website and offered to provide the information, and they said that if I published my policies, then they could publish them on their site, but they would each have to be less than 400 characters. So, here they are:

The NHS

Renationalise all parts of the NHS that have been privatised, and commit to keeping the NHS fully nationalised thereafter. Spend more on mental health to reduce longer-term economic and societal costs. Provide more public information to enable and encourage people to better look after their own health.

Economy and Taxes

End austerity measures by raising taxes for those who can afford it and clamping down on tax avoidance. Measure economic success in terms of wealth of individuals, particularly the poorest in society, rather than economic growth for its own sake. Reward companies for minimising the wage ratio between the highest and lowest paid employees.

Immigration

Invest more in housing and infrastructure to cope with a growing population. Cooperate internationally to reduce global inequality so that we can create more reciprocal freedom-of-movement agreements with other countries without negative effects for any of the countries involved.

Benefits and Pensions

Introduce a Citizen’s Income – a guaranteed regular payment to all citizens regardless of circumstances. This would replace jobseekers’ allowance and would be paid for by changes to income tax brackets.

Scrap contributions-based state pensions, so that those who were unable to contribute as much in their working life do not have to suffer the consequences of this in their old age.

Rights and Crime

Have a full review of laws brought in under the umbrella of anti-terrorism legislation that may infringe on our civil liberties.

Reserve prison for criminals who pose a physical risk to society, and concentrate more on prevention and rehabilitation rather than punishment for its own sake. Remove the ban on prisoners voting.

Environment

Renationalise energy so that we can commit to spending more on renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel use without worrying about profit. Renationalise public transport and commit to providing a better service to reduce congestion on the roads, carbon emissions and pollution in general.

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Greater funding for the NHS and keeping it under public ownership

The NHS is badly underfunded at the moment, and this has caused many problems such as the recent “major incident” at Colchester Hospital, where people were told to visit Accident and Emergency only if they had serious or life-threatening conditions. Waiting list times have gone up, and the NHS has generally been in the news a lot recently for the wrong reasons.

It is clear that the NHS needs more money to cope with demand. Essentially this means that more money needs to be raised from taxes. And as I have argued previously, with such inequality in our society, the extra tax should come from the wealthier members of society. With this goal in mind, the Labour party has suggested, among other things, a mansion tax to raise money for the NHS. Obviously a lot needs to be done to fairly tax members of society on their ability to pay, but certainly this would be a good start.

Mental health funding in particular is currently far too low, accounting for just 13% of NHS spending despite accounting for 28% of illness. Mental health problems may not have obvious physical symptoms, but they are no less existent because of this. Cutting corners on mental health costs is in any case a false economy, because if these problems are ignored when they first appear, they can become more serious and end up costing the NHS, and society in general, a lot more in the long run.

Then there is the issue of privatisation. I am in general against the privatisation of essential services and utilities, so it should be no surprise that I am against any privatisation of the NHS. It would result in the fragmentation of the NHS, and obviously money would be siphoned out of the system by profit-driven companies. There’s no reason why the same standard of service can’t be offered if all NHS services are entirely publicly owned. And the ex chief executive of the NHS David Nicholson has argued that private-sector style competition has hurt the NHS.

Concerns have also been raised that any privatisation of the NHS (or indeed other services) could become irreversible if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) came into effect. This has been disputed but, of course, it can be difficult to know these things for definite given that negotiations on TTIP are being held in secret. In any case, the future of the NHS is not something we should risk for a trade deal with America.