The Conservatives have pledged to ensure there are enough nurses in the health service as part of their election manifesto, which promises hospitals will be “properly staffed”.
The document, launched by David Cameron earlier today, contains a raft of commitments on the NHS including a promise to increase spending every year and a pledge to “improve standards in all areas of care”.
A Conservative government would implement the NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View plan in full, according to the manifesto. It also confirms a commitment trailed in the media to increase NHS spending in England by £8bn in real terms over the next five years.
As well as prioritising cancer and dementia care, the manifesto promises more investment in mental health services and support for better end of life care, so “more people are able to die in a place of their choice”.
“We will continue to ensure that we have enough doctors, nurses and other staff to meet patients’ needs”
In addition, it promises more investment in primary care prevention work, flagging up the launch of a national diabetes prevention programme.
Other specific policies include same-day GP appointments for over 75s – already announced recently by Mr Cameron – and ensuring everyone with dementia has “a meaningful care plan”.
The document praised NHS staff, which it described as “the best in the world”, and promised that the Conservatives would continue to invest to tackle staff shortages.
“Over the past five years we have hired thousands more doctors and nurses,” it stated. “We will continue to ensure that we have enough doctors, nurses and other staff to meet patients’ needs, and consider how best to recognises and reward high performance.”
As part of moves towards a genuine seven-day-a-week health service, hospitals would be “properly staffed, so that the quality of care is the same every day of the week”, added the document.
The party also claimed it has already given more clout to frontline doctors and nurses, stating: “We have given greater power and accountability to the frontline than any other government.”
The Conservatives went on to criticise what they described as a “cover-up culture” under the previous Labour administration.
“Doctors and nurses were scared to speak out about the appalling standards of care at hospitals in places such as Stafford and Morecambe Bay,” said the manifesto, which promised to continue to implement recommendations from the Francis Review.
However, nursing organisations criticised plans to make it harder for health workers, including nurses and midwives, to take industrial action.
The Royal College of Midwives said it was “deeply concerned” by new rules outlined in the manifesto that would make it harder for public sector workers in health, education, fire and transport services to strike.
Under the change, industrial action could only take place if at least 40% of union members eligible to take part in a ballot backed strike action and the majority voted in favour.
Conservative manifesto pledges on health:
- Continue to eliminate mixed-sex hospital wards and reduce hospital infections
- Improve cancer survival rates by boosting prevention and detection, and supporting research
- Ensure a truly seven-day-a-week health service by 2020 with access to both GP and hospital care
- More work to integrate health and social care
- Guarantee a same-day GP appointment for everyone over 75 who needs one
- Bring back the right to see a specific, named GP
- Ensure appointments and repeat prescriptions can be arranged online
- Invest more in primary care prevention work
- National, evidence-based diabetes prevention programme
- Action to reduce childhood obesity
- More support for people struggling with addiction
- New funding for mental health services with access to therapists across the country
- Enforce new access and waiting time standards for mental health services
- More mental health support for women during and after pregnancy
- Ensure everyone with dementia has a meaningful care plan
- Support for more joined-up services for the terminally ill
- Patients to have full access to their own electronic health records plus the ability to opt out of electronic records
- Speed up access to new medicines
- Encourage large-scale trials of new technology and services
Find out which party has pledged what about nursing and the NHS on the Nursing Times’ special 2015 election web page