Green Manifesto 2010 Health
Restoring national health
Compassion in healthcare and the prevention of illness should be at the forefront of our healthcare service. We would:
• Maintain a publicly funded, publicly provided health service, and oppose NHS privatisation and treating healthcare as a market.
• Decentralise healthcare responsibility to local government, ensure that minimum service levels and national guidelines are provided to prevent a postcode lottery, and oppose further health service centralisation.
• Keep the health service free – abolish prescription charges, reintroduce free eye tests and NHS dental treatment for all, and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available.
• In particular, maintain the principle of a free NHS by implementing in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland. If the Scots can do it, so can the rest of us.This would be phased in, costing about £3bn in 2010 rising to £8bn pa, and could create 120,000 jobs.
• Ensure that all cost-effective treatments are available to all patients who need them.
• Patient safety is essential – to improve this we will regulate all healthcare practitioners and therapists.
• Ensure that all medicines meet safety standards, are properly labelled with ingredients and have information on side-effects.
• Make available on the NHS complementary medicines that are cost-effective and have been shown to work. More NHS dental care rather than the mass fluoridation of drinking water.
Prevention is better than cure, and part of prevention is greater equality
The Green Party believes in a much stronger emphasis on prevention of ill health, via living healthier lives and greater equality. This shows how, unlike other parties, our policies are woven together into a coherent whole.
We cannot have an effective preventive approach, and thus a long-term-thinking ‘health’ service, unless we encourage healthier eating, more exercise, a lower-stress, slower-living society, a serious reduction in environmental pollutants, and greater access to tranquil countryside. And we recognise the connection between mental and physical well-being.
Simply making our society more equal will improve our health, without spending a penny extra on the NHS. Life expectancy, infant mortality, low birth-weight and self-rated health are worse in more unequal societies. Mental illness is much more common in more unequal countries. Drug addiction is more common in more unequal societies. Obesity is less of a problem in more equal societies like Japan and worst in the most unequal ones like the US.
Better health is not a matter of ever-increasing spending on the NHS. A surer route, which can’t be disrupted by the need to bail out bankers, is to support simple things like good food, less competition and less stress.
• Provide accessible, local community health centres that provide a wide range of services, including out-of-hours care, and are an additional tier of healthcare rather than a replacement for your GP.
• End phony patient choice.For most of us patient choice is much less important than getting good treatment at our local hospital or health centre – which is often, for many, the only practical choice.
• End mixed-sex accommodation in hospitals.
• Oppose a two-tier health service. The quality of your care should not depend on the depth of your pocket.
• Treat patients with dignity.Patients have both rights and responsibilities – they are not customers who can come and go. Their dignity should be recognised, but they should also treat NHS staff with respect.
• Provide the right to an assisted death within a rigorous framework of regulation, and in the context of the availability of the highest level of palliative care.
• Support the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
• Use increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco to fund overall real growth in the medium term of at least 1.2% per annum in the NHS budget.
Brighton Pavilion candidate Caroline Lucas tackles alcohol-related health and disorder problems
For every 100,000 residents of Brighton, 36 will die from alcohol-related causes this year. Pressure from Brighton Pavilion candidate Caroline Lucas and Green councillors led to a new range of measures being taken by the council to protect people, and especially young people, from alcohol abuse. Now local pubs and off-licences have been formally requested to stop selling super-strength lager, to stop loss-leading practices and to adopt a ‘Challenge 25’ policy to curtail underage drinking.
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