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  • Writer's pictureEmma Vogelmann

General Election 2017: where do the parties stand on Health and Social Care?

Trailblazer Emma Vogelmann has spinal muscular atrophy Type 2 and has written a series of blogs on where the parties stand on key issues in General Election 2017: When you have a disability, fast access to NHS services, the quality of those services/treatments and the ability to access social care is crucial. It is widely known that in order to improve both of these services, more funding is needed.

Muscular Dystrophy UK has identified several specific aspects of the NHS and social care that need to be changed in order to improve the lives of people with muscle-wasting conditions. One of these aspects that is of particular concern and has been taken up by MDUK is quick access to new and effective drugs and treatment. At present MDUK is working with many levels of the NHS and NICE to provide the newly EMA approved drug for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Spinraza, to patients across the UK. When new treatments for rare muscle-wasting conditions become available it is very important patients receive access to it as soon as possible and we will continue to campaign for fast access.

We are experiencing a social care crisis at the moment. People are not receiving the appropriate level of care to meet their needs and are told that this is on financial grounds. However, the quality and amount of care a person receives currently varies significantly based on where you live. This is an area MDUK is very concerned about and will soon be publishing a report with key issues that we will be campaigning the next Parliament for.

So what are the political parties saying needs to be changed in the NHS or social care?

Conservatives –

  1. Build on pre-existing plans to increase mental health funding

  2. Increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years

  3. Ensure that the NHS has the buildings and technology it needs to deliver care properly and efficiently

  4. Implement the recommendations of the Accelerated Access Review to make sure that patients get new drugs and treatments faster while the NHS gets best value for money and remains at the forefront of innovation

  5. “Put right” the issue of quality of care being dependant on where you live

  6. Provide a 7 day healthcare service

Labour –

  1. Take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next Parliament

  2. Tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England, taking action to address ‘postcode lotteries’ and making sure that the quality of care does not depend on which part of the country you live in

  3. Ring-fence mental health budgets and ensure funding reaches the frontline

  4. Ensure all NHS patients get fast access to the most effective new drugs and treatments, and insist on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies

  5. Establish a National Care Service – increase the social care budgets by a further £8 billion over the lifetime of the next Parliament, including an additional £1 billion for the first year

  6. Implementation of the principles of the Ethical Care Charter ending 15-minute care visits and providing care workers with paid travel time, access to training and an option to choose regular hours

Liberal Democrats –

  1. Putting a penny in the pound on Income Tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash injection they need

  2. Provide additional investment in mental health

  3. Give the NHS a legal duty to identify carers and develop a Carer’s Passport scheme to inform carers of their NHS rights, such as flexible visiting hours and access to support

  4. Reduce NHS spending by encouraging ‘people to stay healthy’ – Publish a National Wellbeing Strategy, which puts better health and wellbeing for all at the heart of government policy

  5. Better integration of health and social care

  6. Introduce a statutory independent budget monitoring agency for health and care, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility

  7. Longer-term objective will be to bring together NHS and social care into one seamless service – pooling budgets in every area by 2020 and developing integrated care organisations

Scottish National Party –

  1. Continue to have no prescription charges in Scotland

  2. Increase NHS spending in Scotland

  3. Call on UK Government to stay part of the European Medicines Agency

Each party is making a commitment to invest in mental health services. MDUK has recently launched the project Here For You: Mental Health Matters. Here for you: Mental health matters is a commitment to making tangible changes to the current offering for all individuals and families living with a muscle-wasting condition. MDUK will be pushing for investment in better support for individuals and families, better support and training for healthcare professionals and other improvements in NHS services.

It is important to people who rely on social care that each party presents a plan for how it would be improved under their leadership. There is mention of various social care policies regarding the elderly, however in my view there needs to be more focus on policies relating to young people with disabilities. This speaks to the wider issue of many people with disabilities feeling that their needs are being ignored and not properly recognised. It is true we have an ageing population but we also have a large disabled population who rely on care to live independently and contribute to society. Their needs must be acknowledged too.

This blog was originally published on Muscular Dystrophy UK’s website as part of a series of blogs on the General Election 2017 Manifestos.

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