UKIP Health Spokesman Louise Bours MEP outlining UKIP health policy at the UKIP Conference in Doncaster, September 2014
UKIP National Conference - September 2014 Health Policy Presentation by UKIP Spokesperson Louise Bours MEP
It is an immense privilege and honour to be here today, presenting our new Health Policy, in a year which has seen our party change the political landscape in this country forever.
Since its founding in 1948, the NHS has often been hailed as a victory for working people. Quality healthcare, free at the point of delivery, funded by the tax-payer - sixty years on, the NHS has become a political football. It is often at the heart of political debate.
Once it was purely about doing the best it could to provide for the health needs of the nation - now it has been turned into a barometer of a government's competence. Dysfunctional targets are imposed and dropped depending on what is best for the image of the government of the day, not what is best for improving patient outcomes.
Politician's, NHS users, NHS managers and NHS suppliers need to start asking themselves what part they can play in improving the NHS for the benefit of us all - care and compassion must be at the heart of the NHS - something that seems to have been forgotten by the numerous bureaucrats that now outnumber clinicians and nurses; under the last Labour government NHS management increased by 58%, whilst England had the lowest number of practising doctors for every 1000 people of all developed countries.
Front line workers are demoralized. They see senior managers pay increase, whilst theirs remains virtually stagnant. They see the growing needs of patients and their families ignored, whilst simultaneously observing the incredible waste of time and money evident in the upper echelons of the NHS. Great swathes of time are spent on administration - time which should be spent with patients.
In the wake of appalling scandals at several NHS trusts, UKIP would propose a 'licence to manage' - a 'GMC' for NHS managers. Clinicians are subject to strict discipline from the GMC for Doctors and the NMC for nurses. NHS managers should have the same regulation. A 'license to manage' should be a statutory requirement. Removal of the license would prevent incompetent, negligent or bullying managers being 'conveniently moved sideways.
Sir David Nicholson, dubbed the man with no shame, who oversaw the regional health authority responsible for the appalling treatment of patients in Stafford was promoted to Chief Executive of NHS England. He retired this year with a pension worth £110,000 per annum. Chief Executive Martin Yeates walked away with a payoff of just under half a million pounds, and not one board member was disciplined - many went on to other well-paid jobs within the NHS. UKIP say this is wrong. It is immoral, and under our proposed licensing system, they would be unable to apply for any other job within the NHS.
UKIP would reinstate the State Enrolled Nurse. This would utilize the current pool of auxiliary staff, allowing them to work and train on the wards whilst gaining this accreditation, this would negate the 'too posh too wash' attitude of some graduates highlighted in various NHS scandals up and down the country. Care and compassion must be at the heart of nursing.
Matrons - from now on defined as 'nurse managers' - with long term medical backgrounds and training, will be given back the powers that they have lost under successive Labour and Conservative governments. 'Nurse Managers' will be responsible for ward cleanliness, nurse training and the efficient operations of their ward.
'Monitor' and the 'Care Quality Commission' will be abolished and replaced with county health boards - these boards will inspect health services and also take evidence from whistle blowers - members of the boards will be elected locally and consist of health professionals, not politicians. These boards will bring local democratic control to all major local health decisions directly affecting our communities.
Britain has long been a destination for those who wish to work and prosper - we have been a haven for those in need or in danger - this we should be proud of, and this we should continue; however, the Westminster elite seem to have forgotten one thing - it is the 'National Health Service', not the 'International Service'; the government estimate that 2 billion pounds every year is lost through 'health tourism'. British workers and tourists routinely purchase medical insurance, why should we not expect the same of visitors and migrant workers to our shores? UKIP will ensure that all migrants and visitors have NHS approved medical insurance as a condition of entry to Great Britain.
Our universal health service makes us the envy of the world - we must ensure however, that the system is fair to those who contribute to it - the British tax payer. Visitors and migrant workers must meet a 'minimum health insurance requirement' - it works in the USA, Australia, Canada and other countries around the world - it must now work for Britain too.
This scheme would be monitored through the visa application process, thereby negating the need to inflict further bureaucracy upon our already burgeoned primary care providers. When visitors, students or migrant workers apply for a visa, they must also apply or demonstrate the existence of health insurance. Details of health care providers can be easily displayed alongside visa information. In accordance with the Australian healthcare model, a minimum health standard should also be met by all visa applicants.
One of the subjects people write to me most about as a Councillor is hospital car parking charges. Their very existence, and the fact that people are arbitrarily fined when they are at their most vulnerable, makes patients, family and friends understandably furious at this appalling lack of compassion and consideration.
UKIP would commit to spending 200 million of the 2 billion saved through these proposals to end hospital car parking charges in England.
There has been much misinformation propagated by the Labour party about UKIP and our views on health. They have distributed literature claiming that we would charge people to see their GP, and they claim that we would privatise the NHS, by bringing in private companies to deliver services, well excuse me Mr Miliband, was it not the Labour government who supported and continue to support the Private Finance Initiatives? By the time they have run their course, they will have given 300 billion pounds of NHS money to private businesses - the treasury estimate that repayments will balloon until they reach 10.1 billion a year by 2017. This astronomical figure could have been used to transform the NHS. Instead, these agreements have only been beneficial to the private shareholders and hedge fund managers who invested - Labour helped privatise the NHS under our very noses.
Now ladies and gentlemen, it saddens me to inform you that senior party members, have publicly stated that people should be charged 200 pounds to see their GP; I am of course talking about senior Labour party members - 120 pounds per annum has also been suggested by Labour party members, as an NHS membership fee - well, not on my watch – and Labour Lords Winston and Warner, who made these suggestions, only further highlight the disconnect between Labour and working people.
The work of the NHS is carried out by dedicated doctors, nurses and hospital staff. It is an insult for the grey suited men of the Labour party to claim that somehow it is they who keep it all ticking over. The truth is the NHS works in spite of Labour, not because of it. UKIP will ensure that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery and of need. A two tier national health system, where those with money can opt to pay for enhanced services will never be acceptable.
We all have to understand and accept that things must change. With an ever ageing population, new and innovative ways have to be sought in order to maintain standards and delivery of care, however, it is not the paramedics, the health care workers, the nurses or the doctors that we need to look too - it is the plethora of managers that exist within the NHS; incompetent managers who shrug off responsibility to other committees and regulatory bodies. Control via committee is inefficient. NHS managers have to take personal responsibility for their decisions. They must be judged on their successes and failures, not by their ability to avoid blame.
The plight of Ashya King, the little boy whose parents had to flee the country in order to get him the proton therapy required to treat his brain tumour, was truly shocking.
It was shocking on many levels, not least because a child was having to go to another country in order to obtain lifesaving medical treatment because it wasn´t available here in Britain.
NHS managers need to get there priorities right.
I am sure that if the public were given a choice between the NHS equipping itself adequately in order to treat Ashya and the numerous other children currently forced to go overseas for treatment, or the NHS continuing to spend approximately £90million every year on Gastric band and breast enhancement operations, I know absolutely and unequivocally what the British public would choose.
We could treat all of those children for less than 1 tenth of what we spend on gastric band and breast enhancement operations each year. No children dying whilst waiting, no families desperately attempting to raise funds before time runs out; no question as to whose treatment should be the priority.
Now last week, I received a letter from Len McClusky. In this letter he spells out the worries and concerns the union and its members have over TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. TTIP is a European Union and US trade deal being negotiated as we speak - the inclusion of medical, health and dental provision within this agreement, is a serious threat. TTIP is there for the benefit of one thing only, big business – I have a message for Len McClusky and UNITE - UKIP will fight alongside you to ensure the NHS is excluded from this agreement - the NHS is about our welfare, it cares and protects the people of this country and it should not be an article in a trade agreement between the European Union and the United States of America.
So, we have a fight on our hands; for the young, for the old, for the healthy, for the infirm, we have a fight. The Labour party will continue to lie to their grass roots support. With this policy you can fight back. You can show voters that we are the party who will acknowledge the problems, fight the bureaucracy, end the culture of taking out whilst never putting in, and be the only party who will always put the British public first.