Across Britain, the NHS is in crisis. It’s the result of more than a decade of underfunding, a crisis in the care system and acute social pressures. The Tories have declared war on the NHS workforce. And some Tory MPs are now suggesting we have to start paying for NHS treatments.
But it’s not enough to say “Defend the NHS” – though we have to defend the principle of free healthcare provided by publicly owned services.
We need to transform and modernise the health service. We have to redesign it so that it promotes health and wellbeing for all, and makes maximum use of new technology. So that health and social are workers can move from crisis management to the kind of 21st century system they dream of running.
That means more money across the board: for primary care; for more staff; universal access to elderly social care, a workforce on the wages they deserve and access to mental health services for all who need them.
It also means setting mandatory public health targets – not just for local authorities but for industry sectors – and building in the Marmot Indicators (on child mortality, wellbeing, decent housing etc) into all aspects of government policy.
Labour’s top priority should be to provide free universal healthcare, social care, dentistry and mental health services for all. These are the foundations of a 21st century economy that puts people before profit.
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