THE NHS – RESOURCES AND REFORM
We believe in the NHS. That’s why:
We guarantee that it will always provide treatment free when you need it, regardless of ability to pay.
We are increasing resources to the NHS. Even when we are taking very tough spending decisions, we are increasing spending in real terms. Labour would cut NHS spending, just like they’ve done in Wales.
The NHS is facing massive and rising cost pressures from an ageing population and new medicines. So we need to modernise it to make it fit for the future. That means:
More power to doctors and patients – Labour gave patients more choice when they were in power but now oppose it.
Competition to get the best possible treatment – Labour thought competition was a good way of getting better results when they were in Government but now oppose it.
Cutting bureaucracy to get more money to the front line – Labour pencilled in £20bn of efficiency savings from the Nicholson review but are now trying to stop us getting these savings.
Labour have abandoned reform and jumped on the bandwagon of opposition to this Bill. They have no plans to improve the NHS, just kneejerk siding with unions and producers against the interest of patients.
WE BELIEVE IN THE NHS
We believe in the NHS and its core principles – of treatment free at the point of use, funded from general taxation, and based on need and notability to pay.
That’s why at the time of an international debt crisis we insisted on ringfencing health spending – that’s one in every seven pounds of public money.
Let’s be clear – this Government is investing in the NHS, unlike Labour who are in power in Wales, and are cutting the health budget. When they were in power, they threw money at the NHS, and wasted much of it on bureaucracy.
WHY REFORM IS NECESSARY
The number of people aged over 85 in this country will double in the next twenty years. New medicines are coming on stream all the time. Both of those things are wonderful news. But it means that despite protecting the NHS budget, costs are rising at an unaffordable rate – the cost of medicines has been rising at £600million a year. That’s just one reason why we need to rethink how the system works.
Money has been wasted on bureaucracy, inefficient systems and bad PFI deals which are costing us a fortune that could be spent on treatment.
Though the NHS is brilliant at many treatments, we need to do better in some areas. If the NHS was performing at world class levels we would save an extra 5,000 lives from cancer every year.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
We want to free Doctors and nurses to focus on quality, not narrow bureaucratic targets. That’s why we’ve got rid of 15,000 administrators – including 5,800 managers – and employed 4,000 more doctors.
Putting money where it‘s needed – on the frontline
We’re taking power away from bureaucrats, and putting it into the hands of people who are best placed to use it – family doctors.
This will save £4.5billion being wasted in current admin budgets in this parliament – so investing £1.4 billion in the reforms is well worth it.
Ensuring patients get the best possible care
Competition has existed in the NHS for a long time. The last Government brought in the private sector.
As a result of changes made by Labour, over a quarter of “walk in centres” are privately run. You don’t realise it because they carry the NHS brand. That’s why Labour’s opposition to these evolutionary reforms is so hypocritical.
Competition is not a disease. It helps ensure money is spent efficiently and that patients get the very best treatment. A good example of this is allowing charities like Macmillan Cancer Support to expand their brilliant cancer care programmes across the NHS.
The NHS is precious, that’s why we need to ensure competition is always in the patient’s interest. The Bill is clear on this, and it also ensures that:
“Cherry picking” of the most lucrative treatments by private providers (leaving the NHS to pick up the hard cases) is prohibited.
The focus will be on competition on quality – not on price.
WHY WE NEED TO LEGISLATE
Some claim we could have done all of this without a bill. But the bill gives legal backing to the reforms – making it harder for Unions and vested interests to dilute and stymie necessary reform.
It’s true some reforms have already happened on the ground under existing laws – eg setting up Clinical Commissioning Groups – but if we changed or altered the bill now, we would end up in a no man’s land, and chaos.
We will never privatise the NHS. We want a strong NHS free at the point of use, regardless of ability to pay.
The NHS is getting better in our hands:
Waiting times are low and stable, with the number of patients waiting over 6 months and a year for treatment at their lowest levels ever.
Hospital infections are at their lowest levels ever (MRSA is down a third and CDiff down 16% in the last year).
Mixed sex wards have been almost entirely eradicated (down by 95%).
We have 4,000 more doctors, 900 more midwives and 5,800 fewer managers than at the General Election.
Our £200 million Cancer Drugs Fund has given 10,000 people the drugs they would have been denied by Labour.
SUPPORT FOR THE BILL
It is true that a number of unions and professional bodies have come out against the Bill – despite giving it the thumbs up after the listening exercise. Much of this is based on these myths, using the Bill to fight pay or pensions battles, and a refusal to accept that competition could ever be a good thing.
When you speak to people in the NHS experiencing these reforms on the ground, they sing their praises. The Clinical Commissioning Groups that already exist, and are made up of many thousands of GPs, insist the system is far better than what went before – enabling them to ensure patients’ needs come first.
That’s why our reforms have the support of the NHS Confederation, the Foundation Trust Network and the National Association of Primary Care – representing 75% of Clinical Commissioning Groups. They are also supported by reforming former Labour Ministers like Lord Darzi and Lord Warner.
OUR REFORMS ARE DELIVERING REAL BENEFITS ALREADY
The Dartford, Gravesham & Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group’s focus on preventing hospital admissions saw a 33% reduction in hospital attendances and admissions amongst care home patients over a six month period.
In Nottingham, the clinical commissioning group has reduced emergency admissions by working with all GP practices in the area to provide as much information as possible to patients about the new 111 service.
A clinical commissioning group in Barnet has set up a community gynaecologist, helping over 400 women a month get this treatment closer to home, not in hospital.
A clinical commissioning group in Bedfordshire has set up a team to deal exclusively with care home emergency calls and arranged for vulnerable older people to be treated in their home, and made nearly a 40% reduction in hospital visits.
Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group has developed a simple blood test for GPs to improve care for heart failure patients which will save the NHS locally up to £60,000 a year, and benefit on average 10 patients at every practice in the catchment area.
A clinical commissioning group in Torbay has set up an innovative fitness and exercise programme that has resulted in around 60 per cent of the people who attended the pilot course losing 5-10 per cent of their body weight.
A clinical commissioning group in Wigan has redesigned stroke services and reduced the average hospital stay for patients from 56 days to 12 days, reducing A&E waits and saving £700,000 per year.
Our critics say we should focus on “the Nicholson Challenge” of finding efficiencies in the NHS. This is not an either/or situation. The reforms are critical to making sure the NHS delivers the Nicholson challenge – and we’ve already found £7 billion of savings, all of which have been reinvested in frontline patient care.
We need to ensure:
The NHS is the best it can be.
The best treatments are available for patients.
Everyone is treated with dignity and respect.