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The Battle for Number 10: policies on healthcare and the NHS

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The 2015 General Election is fast approaching and all of the primary contenders are busy perfecting their campaigns to persuade voters that what they are promising is best for the United Kingdom. A slight change of power in Westminster will see the face of the country change hugely, with one of the most hotly contended issues being the National Health Service. The NHS always proves to be a contentious area that can make or break a party’s campaign, despite the public admitting they are unsure about what health service policies the different parties are promoting.

A multitude of different professions, ranging from nurses and GPs to dieticians and physiotherapists, constitute the workforce of the NHS. Being such an incremental part of British society, any cuts that are made to the service can have a huge effect on not only the future of the United Kingdom’s healthcare system, but its workers too. With both employees and patient facilities facing either prospective funding or cuts, it is easy to see why the NHS plays such a pivotal role in a UK General Election.

Training unqualified nurses or healthcare assistants from within the UK can prove both an expensive and lengthy process, especially with the present demand within hospitals. However, the major political parties are aiming to introduce new policies to eradicate this trend and create more jobs for British workers as funding increases.

As employment and recruitment within the healthcare profession set to be a hot topic in the majority of party manifestos, Your World Healthcare’s Commercial Director Greg Wood commented on the potential changes to jobs in the sector, believing “there should be a long term and meaningful strategy to safeguard our healthcare jewel, not just a five year plan to see the political parties through to the next election”.

With the NHS promising to be a dominant debating subject, it’s imperative to know what the main UK political parties aim to do to improve the current system.

The Labour Party has promised fund £2.5bn immediately into the NHS to create a significant number of new jobs including 20,000 positions for nurses, 8,000 for GPs, 5,000 new jobs for care workers and 3,000 for midwives. The party’s leader Ed Miliband stated in a recent television interview that his party intend to bring in 1,000 nurses through higher education into the NHS and said he will personally write to universities and colleges on his first day in office to enforce this. Another huge promise made by Labour is to combine all medical fields into one by incorporating medical, mental, physical and social care into one service provided by hospital trusts.

Taking a wholly different stance, the Liberal Democrats are committed to creating 6,000 new jobs for doctors. They want to improve the current system to provide a better level of care and they plan to hand out cancer drugs for 30,000 more patients every year than what is currently being given. They want to spend £400 million on the mental health sector and they also want to cap the high costs of social care to help the older generation to be able to afford care services.

While Labour promises jobs, the Conservatives have vowed to put their money where their mouths are and have said they plan to spend around £8 billion to reform the existing system in the coming five years. They also want to open thousands of new GP surgeries to ease the amount of people currently waiting for appointments in the hope of reducing waiting times and saving lives.

Many of the top parties’ political campaigns will focus on the NHS in 2015 and the promises set out by the leading candidates could change the face of the healthcare service for years to come through new funding and the creation of job opportunities.