THE COALITION’S POLICY ON HEALTH (MANIFESTO) INFO from the CAOH newsletter.

Front-line Services/ Increased Spending /Reduced Bureaucracy: Both parties recognised the need to protect front-line services and to make drastic cuts to bureaucracy and politically motivated targets that hinder clinical staff from the performance of their duties. The Conservatives pledged to increase spending in the NHS while the Liberal Democrats concentrated on the reallocation of funds within the NHS to front-line services. The Conservatives also stated that they intended to cut NHS bureaucracy by one third, while the Liberal Democrats stated that they planned to reduce the size of the Department of Health by half. Increased spending is the one area of policy in which agreement has been confirmed as the Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement stated that the parties agree the funding for the NHS should increased each year of the Parliament.

Patient Choice: Both parties recognise that there should be greater patient choice with respect to access of GPs that should not be restricted to postcodes. The Conservatives would also like patient choice extended beyond GPs and hospitals to individual consultants.

Out of Hours Care: Both parties acknowledged the need for improvement in the provision of out of hours care. The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto emphasised the need for direct involvement by GPs and the Conservatives went much further in their policy proposals by increasing access to GPs for twelve hours a day, seven days a week as part of the solution.

Prevention of Illness: Both parties outlined the importance of prevention of illness. The Conservatives planned to achieve this through the promotion of good health and effective screening of diseases. The Liberal Democrats gave priority to preventing illness by linking payments to health boards and GPs more directly to prevention measures but the Liberal Democrats also planned to reduce ill health resulting from excessive drinking.

Greater Accountability: Following the high profile cases that have been reported recently both parties acknowledge the need for NHS hospitals and Trusts’ performances to be published and properly held to account. The Conservatives outlined proposals to publish data about performance of healthcare providers online, so that people will know who provides a good service. The Liberal Democrats wanted to require hospitals to be honest about mistakes and ensure patients were told if something had gone wrong.

Care for the Elderly: Both parties acknowledge the rising costs of treatments and care that affects the ageing population, particularly cancer treatment, mental health care and dementia care. The Conservatives have suggested a one-off voluntary insurance premium payable on retiring to prevent people from having to sell their homes to pay for residential care and have also promised to provide support at home so people can remain living independently as far as possible. The Liberal Democrats are also concerned about care for the elderly and have plans to establish an independent commission, with cross-party support to develop long-term care for the elderly. The Liberal Democrats also called to prioritise dementia research.

A&E and Maternity Wards: In the manifestos of both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives both parties expressed an intention to prevent the forced closure of accident and emergency departments and maternity wards.

Latest Developments

Today Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley MP gave an interview to the Daily Mail revealing some more policy details for the new Government’s plans for health and social care and further policy details were reported in the Financial Times. Yesterday he also gave an interview to Radio 4’s Today Programme confirming plans for efficiency savings combined with reinvestment and spending increases.

Two ministerial posts were also announced. Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow and Conservative MP Simon Burns will both take up junior posts under Mr. Lansley in the Department of Health.

Key policy plans reportedly confirmed were:

1. Efficiency savings of £15-£20 billion with the possibility of requiring more but a small real terms increase in overall spending
2. Creation of an independent NHS Board
3. Return of responsibility for out of hours care to GPs (though not necessarily as providers)
4. Introduction of foreign language checks for GPs
5. End to cut price alcohol selling
6. £200 million fund for new cancer drugs by April 2011
7. Increase in the number of single rooms available
8. Pay freeze for NHS staff next year

EDUCATION info.from NGA NEWSLETTER

Promote the reform of schools in order to ensure new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand
Give all schools greater freedom over the curriculum
Ensure all schools are held properly to account
Fund a significant premium for disadvantaged pupils from outside the schools budget by reductions in spending elsewhere
Reform the rigid national pay and conditions rules and give schools greater freedoms to pay good teachers more and deal with poor performance
Simplify the regulations of standards in education and target inspection on areas of failure
Give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false allegations
Create more flexibility in the exams systems so that state schools can offer qualifications like the International GCSE
Reform league tables so that schools are able to focus on and demonstrate the progress of children of all abilities.
Give heads and teachers the power they need to ensure discipline in the classroom and promote good behaviour
Improve diagnostic assessment for school children and prevent the unnecessary closure of special schools and remove the bias towards inclusion
Improve vocational education and create new Technical Academies
Keep external assessment but review how Key Stage 2 tests operate
All new Academies to have inclusive admissions policies
Work with faith groups to enable more faith schools and facilitate inclusive admissions policies in as many of these schools as possible.

The Queen’s Speech takes place on Tuesday 25 May and we are anticipating an Education Bill. The Government has previously said that it would like some of its measures to be in place by September, if that is the case then the NGA would expect to see a full copy of the Bill shortly after the Queen’s Speech.

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