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Saturday, April 18, 2015, Issue 32

“So, what would you do with the NHS?”

With the General Election date of Thursday, 7 May fast approaching and to coincide with the dissolution of the current Parliament, the Society has produced 10 questions for members to ask their local candidates.

In what all commentators now predict to be the closest election in years, it is likely that every vote will count.

Paul Moloney, the SCoR’s industrial relations manager explains: “These questions are designed to reflect the issues that are important to our members at work. 

“They therefore cover issues that may not attract the headlines but we believe are of great importance to members working at all levels in radiography both in the NHS and elsewhere. They relate to professional matters, employment law and trade union law.”

“Clearly, there will also be local issues but these questions are issues affecting members wherever they work in the UK and to which members need answers”.

Of course there is one additional question that members in Northern Ireland will wish to ask candidates there: “What is your party going to do to ensure NHS employees in Northern Ireland get a similar pay increase to their colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?”

Paul stresses that there is no political bias in the questions. 

“Our recent pay campaign has seen us challenge decisions by the SNP in Scotland, the Labour Party in Wales, the DUP in Northern Ireland and the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in England, so we can prove beyond doubt our political independence and these questions uphold that proud tradition. It is for the candidates themselves to find answers that address the concerns expressed in each question.”

Details of who your local candidates can be found at https://yournextmp.com/. The questions below will also be sent to the appropriate spokesperson for each of the main parties for a national response and will be published on our website in due course.  

As well as the questions below, we have also summarised what each of the parties say are their plans for the NHS after the election.

Questions for national political parties

1. How will your party ensure NHS workers receive fair pay increases in the future without the need for them to take strike action? 

2. Despite this year’s pay increase, since the last election the purchasing power of NHS pay rates has declined by about 14%. Does your party believe this is fair and what would your party do to address this problem?  

3. The problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust have been well documented but the most recent report by Sir Robert Francis suggests there are still many places where NHS staff are victimised if they speak out about wrong doing. What will your party do to encourage a culture where speaking out is not just encouraged but regarded as essential for patient care?  

4. What is your party’s view of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and do you intend repealing part or all of it or extending it to all parts of the UK? 

5. There are proposals in England to devolve the health budget in Greater Manchester from the NHS to the local authority. What is your party’s view of this? 

6. Radiographers are involved in the care pathways of most patients and have the skills to deliver cost effective and efficient ways of both diagnosing and treating many illnesses. How will your party ensure the full potential of the radiography workforce is identified and utilised?

7. What steps will your party take to address the acute shortage of Radiographers throughout the UK? 

8. The UK’s membership of the European Union has ensured workers have the protection of important employment legislation, such as the European Working Time Directive and the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment Regulations. What is your party’s position on continued membership of the EU? 

9. What is your party’s view on the right of health sector workers to take strike action and do you intend limiting this right in any way?

10. It is not just important to have employment rights but also to be able to enforce them if necessary. What is your party’s view of the fees for submitting Employment Tribunal claims and do you intend changing or abolishing these fees? 

If members receive any clear pledges from candidates when answering these questions, let us know so we can hold them to it should they be elected, or should their party form the Government following the election.

We will be regularly updating the website as the campaign develops and also blogging regularly as commentary on what the politicians say as they campaign to get your vote.

What the parties say they will do with the NHS:

England

Conservative

• £2 billion investment in frontline health services.

• Ring fenced budget.

• GPs available seven days a week by 2020.

• Recruit 5000 more doctors.

Green

• Funding diverted towards community healthcare.

• Stop privatisation.

• Abolish prescription charges.

• Dedicated NHS tax to go direct to health services.

Labour

• Recruit 20,000 more nurses, 8000 more doctors and 3000 more midwives.

• Cancer tests and results within a week.

• Get a GP appointment within 48 hours.

• £2.5 billion care fund for NHS.

• Ring fenced budget.

• Replace Cancer Drugs Fund in England with £330m fund for access to cancer drugs, surgery and radiotherapy.

Liberal Democrat

• Commit an extra £1 billion every year, half of which will go towards mental health treatment.

• Patients who need therapy for conditions such as depression receive treatment within 18 weeks.

• Cross-party review of the future of NHS funding.

• 6000 more doctors.

• Seven day GP clinics from 8am-8pm.

UKIP

• An extra £3 billion in funding paid for by quitting the EU and middle management cuts.

• Keep the NHS free at the point of delivery.

• Stop the further use of PFI and encourage local authorities to buy out contracts where possible.

• All visitors and migrants who have been here less than five years have NHS approved medical insurance - saving £2 billion.

• £200 million spent on ending hospital parking charges.

• Give power back to matrons.

• Cut £90 million yearly spend on gastric band and breast enhancement procedures.

Northern Ireland

Alliance 

• Targeting resources at public health issues to make sure people are fitter and healthier.

• Ensuring mental health is at the heart of service.

• Placing stronger emphasis on prevention and early detection.

• Reduce reliance on A&E departments.

Democratic Unionist

• Shift 25-30 per cent of care in hospitals to the community.

• Move control of budgets to local level.

• Allocate more of the budget to public health  promotion and disease prevention.

Sinn Fein

• Establishment of a universal public health system with free health care at point of delivery.

• Oppose proposals to privatise health services.

Social Democratic and Labour

• Healthcare free at the point of need.

• Cross-border co-operation to share resources and equipment. 

Ulster Unionist

• Improve diagnosis and treatment times.

• Offer more solutions for mental health issues.

• Enhanced care in the community, greater access to GPs and support for the elderly. 

Scotland

SNP

• Reduce the amount of senior managers in the NHS by 25 per cent during next parliament.

• Streamline the work of health boards.

• Real terms increase in year-on-year spending.

• One-stop cancer diagnosis.

Wales

Plaid Cymru

• Train and recruit 1000 extra doctors.

• Integrate health and social care.

• Create new Medicines and Treatments Fund to help treatments not usually available on the NHS.

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