Questions for your politicians

How can you tell if your politicians really support the NHS? Try asking them the following questions...

1. Will you increase the funding for the NHS and make sure that there are enough staff?
A significant increase in funding is needed. NHS spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) will fall from its peak of 8 per cent in 2009 to just over 6 per cent in 2021 – equivalent to 2003 spending levels. [1] More than 80% of A&E units cannot provide coverage by an on-duty consultant for the 16 hours a day needed to guarantee the best possible care, while the Royal College of Nursing has forecast a shortfall of 47,500 nurses by 2016. [2]

2. Will you support GP services so they can provide care when we need it?
The Royal College of GPs has estimated that by 2021 there could be 16,000 fewer GPs than are needed. Out-of-hours GP care has been widely privatised damaging the safety of care. [3] More than half of patients wait 2 days or more to see their GP. [4]

3. Will you reverse the market-based policies that are privatising our NHS and help all bodies concerned with our health to work together rather than compete against each other?
£13 billion worth of contracts to run or manage clinically related NHS services have been opened up to the private sector in the 12 months since the competition regulations (Section 75) were passed by Parliament. This is more than three times the value of the previous year. [5]

4. Will you reduce the burden of the wasteful PFI contracts?
PFI deals offer very poor value, we will pay £80bn for hospitals that cost £11bn to build. They drain huge sums from patient care every year, typically taking 5-15% of our hospitals revenue. PFI payments will rise by at least 30% in the next 10 years. [6]

5. Will you make the NHS more accountable to the public, from the health secretary down?
Fragmentation of the NHS means that the public have little say or control over services. The Health and Social Care Act diluted the health secretary’s responsibility for ensuring that patient care is provided. [7]

6. Will you listen to the views of staff and include them in your plans to change the NHS?
It is sometimes necessary to change services, but too often this is done against the will of local staff and the public. A High Court judge ruled Jeremy Hunt acted outside his powers when he decided the emergency and maternity units should be cut back at Lewisham hospital. [8]

7. Will your help restore an NHS which puts the safety, dignity and care of patients ahead of financial targets?
The Francis report highlighted the fact that hospital managers had been distracted by business targets. [9]