The NHS was a hotly debated topic during the election – hardly a surprise given the spiralling costs, ever-increasing deficit and cutbacks to services. Here we look back on the recent NHS news, covering the lead-up to the election and some of the stories that hit the headlines.
During the campaign, floating voters who were polled by Good Morning Britain on ITV indicated that they had more trust in the Labour Party on issues including the NHS, housing and education, and that they would rather have public services than tax cuts (The Mirror | May 6th, 2015).
All the main parties during the election were keen to make promises about the NHS – more doctors, more nurses and easier accessibility via longer opening hours. But no-one mentioned the effects on social care of local government cutbacks (BBC News | May 12th, 2015).
An open letter to the Guardian by several leading medical figures insisted that the NHS needs more funding and investment if it is to continue to function and meet growing demand. During the election, all of the parties failed to pledge enough to meet the £30bn gap (The Guardian | May 6th, 2015).
Once the Tory manifesto was released it was clear that £22bn of ‘efficiency savings’ needed to be made in the NHS, but what did the manifesto promise to deliver, and how? (Huffinton Post | May 10th, 2015).
According to an Ipsos MORI poll, the NHS was more important to voters than the economy or immigration during the run up to the election. But politicians all evaded the question of how extra staffing and seven-day care were actually going to be paid for. Will there ever be an all-party debate? (BBC News | May 1st, 2015).
Despite having been mentioned as a priority during the election by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, The Green Party and UKIP, it seems likely that funding for mental health services will be cut by 8% over the course of this parliament, according to the BBC (BBC News | May 5th, 2015).
With the over-65s accounting for more than 70% of bed patients in hospitals, more older people are being encouraged by physiotherapists to become more active, increasing their independence – could this be the way to save up to £2.3bn a year? (The Guardian | May 13th, 2015).
Families are being encouraged to make better use of their health visitor during their child’s first five years, with a campaign being launched to raise awareness of their role. (Leamington Courier | Mah 9th, 2015).
Most doctors and nurses would agree that having a bespoke, intuitive IT system that would replace the need for repetitive data entry all under one system (with one log-in) would make the working day far easier – but can this be achieved? (Information Age | May 13th, 2015).
Relying on agency doctors and nurses in the NHS not only highlights the shortage of NHS permanent staff but also costs up to the equivalent of £750,000 p.a. for a single post, explaining the £822 million NHS deficit (The Telegraph | May 23rd, 2015).
It seems to be widely recognised that there need to be efficiency savings but where should these be made? Should there be cuts to frontline services? Is tackling the use of agency staff the right thing to do? Most people would agree that NHS staff are too few and their pay too low. NHS discounts go someway to help staff make ends meet, but should the overall issue of fair pay be looked at? Health Service Discounts would like to hear from you with your comments.
Image by Jon S via Flickr