Health plans for South Thanet are being drawn up as part of a wider consideration of Kent and Medway that seeks to make savings of £457m by 2020/21. This fails to take proper account of the devastating health inequalities in the area, and it has potentially disastrous consequences for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital and our GP surgeries. Until such time as the Health and Social Care Act (2012) is repealed by a Labour Government, bringing health and social care back under central control, Kent’s health commissioners must be held to account.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As part of the devolution agreement for Greater Manchester, 37 NHS organisations and local authorities have devised a population health plan that makes the reduction of health inequalities a priority and aims to ensure that people start well, live well and age well.
A 21st century health and social care service may well look different to the one we have now, because it’ll need to meet the twin challenges of an ageing population and the management of long-term conditions, which account for around 70 percent of the health and social care budget. But it’s nigh-on impossible to have a mature conversation about health and social care when the whole system is on its knees.
The Labour Party has committed to investing in a modern, well-resourced health service, to reversing privatisation of the NHS and to enhancing public health and community and social care. But we need to go even further than the 2017 manifesto. Where Labour has resolved to invest 2% in the NHS, I’d urge the leadership to find the 4% necessary to its survival. At the same time, we must end the disastrous PFI contracts that are leaching vital funds out of the system. We need to make health central to all policy-making, with HM Treasury allotting funds to Government departments on the basis of their contribution to health, and we need to abolish the internal market in the NHS as is being done in Wales.