The National Health Service is a big complicated organisation in a constant state of crisis. Afterwork has no idea how to fix it, but notes that it generally survives and may be improved by a policy of not fiddling with it every five minutes (see Education).
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have opinions, can’t ask questions or are going to duck out of having a health policy.
Now you may have noticed that most parties’ health policies include building more hospitals, hiring more GPs, more consultants and more nurses and reducing the number of administrators.
You know what? The NHS is a big complicated organisation and needs professional administrators in order to run efficiently and to stop medical staff being dragged into administrative roles for which they are ill-equipped.
We can’t produce thousands of GPs out of a hat or nurses and midwives out of thin air: neither can we improve the nation’s health by clicking our fingers. Hospitals are built over decades; it takes years to train health professionals and even longer for changes to health outcomes to have an impact. We will plan for the long term.
We recognise that the physical infrastructure (hospitals, clinics and health centres) needs constant refreshment and updating and will plan accordingly.
We recognise that an increase in the number of women GPs and consultants means that there is a demand for more flexible career structures and working hours and that, by training adequate numbers, this could help us to provide more flexible services for the public and open up a wider range of opportunities to both men and women in the medical profession.
We will promote evidence based medicine and stop spending money on unproven therapies such as homeopathy, even if the Royal Family thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
We will review screening programmes and stop them where the evidence shows that they don’t make any difference and may lead to people having unnecessary procedures, even if this makes us really, really unpopular.
We will promote reductions in fat, salt and sugar in processed food. We will promote the provision of clear information on food and drink. We will put health warnings on high fat, salt and sugar food and drink aimed at children. We will put health information and warnings on alcohol. We will consider minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
We will continue to provide free nutritious meals to primary school children even though we shouldn’t have to.
There is a close correlation between poverty and poor health. We will work to reduce poverty.
We will work to improve the national housing stock. Actually, we think that this is the single most important thing that we can do to improve the nation’s health.