We want to defend and improve our National Health Service.
Every part of the NHS should be defended as a publicly run, publicly owned system providing free care. Access should be universal and equitable – market forces have no place in healthcare.
We would repeal the Health and Social Care Act to restore the NHS as a publicly delivered, publicly funded and publicly accountable healthcare system. We also support attempts to pass an NHS Reinstatement Bill into law.
Healthcare provision and planning, including staff to patient ratios and bed numbers, should be based on evidence and outcomes – and excellence should be the norm.
There must be an immediate moratorium on A&E and hospital closures. Any reconfigurations must be clinically, not financially driven and must show they have won public and professional support for alternative, improved services.
The NHS should be funded through taxation, and borrowing where necessary, according to the level of social need. We will reverse the decline in real wages of health service workers and protect whistleblowers.
Mental health services have been shamefully neglected over decades and need to be expanded and integrated into the broader NHS. There should also be a focus on workplace health, public health and social care.
Abolish the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) introduced by Labour and cancel the PFI debts. Reduce the Department of Health’s reliance on expensive external management consultants. We are also opposed to the TTIP trade deal (see International), which would further open up the NHS to the market.
We need to work towards a single integrated NHS, which would eliminate the internal market (the so-called ‘purchaser/provider split’). The NHS could then use its huge purchasing power to reduce costs of drugs, equipment and supplies.
Health research is essential but the private pharmaceutical industry exploits patients and the NHS. Left Unity would restrict its powers, and ultimately replace it with a non-profit system of pharmaceutical production. The money wasted on private profit and bidding processes could be used to expand the total amount of drug research.
Weaknesses of the original NHS include poor democratic accountability and separate arrangements for GPs leaving them free to pursue private practice. We need a modern system in which employees, councillors, patients and carers are represented on all appropriate health bodies and where clinical need rather than cost and ‘balancing the books’ determine priorities.
Healthcare is only one part of health: it is just as important to stop people becoming ill in the first place – and poverty is a huge cause of illness.
Policies such as improved social housing, access to good education, healthy food and a healthy environment will help prevent ill health. Every step that reduces inequality has been shown to improve the health of all parts of society.
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Left Unity is a member of the European Left Party.
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