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© MA Healthcare Ltd, 2015. All rights reserved. No part of the British Journal of Nursing may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission of the Publishing Director. The British Journal of Nursing is a double-blind, peerreviewed journal. It is indexed on the main databases, including the International Nursing Index, Medline and the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the editor or the British Journal of Nursing. Advertisements in the journal do not imply endorsement of the products or services advertised. ISSN 0966 – 0461 Print: Pensord Press Ltd, Blackwood, NP12 2YA Distribution: Comag Distribution, West Drayton, UB7 7QE Cover picture: iStockphoto.com The paper used within this publication has been sourced from Chain-of-Custody certified manufacturers, operating within international environmental standards, to ensure sustainable sourcing of the raw materials, sustainable production and to minimise our carbon footprint.

British Journal of Nursing, 2015, Vol 24, No 6

The gloves are off: let battle commence


here are less than 50 days before the polls open, exactly 5  years since the last election and, as predicted, the proverbial football (the NHS) is being brought onto the pitch. The game is gathering pace with health coming to the fore. The headlines are full of stories of smears, bribes, lies and dirty tricks. In 2001, a previous manifesto on education set out priorities using slogans such as ‘education, education, education’ making it clear that the classrooms were at the top of the political agenda. Health, health, health has always been in the limelight (you only have to think back to the opening of the Olympics in 2012 and how the NHS was centre stage). Since the Coalition Government took office, health has been in the headlines almost on a daily basis. There have been a number of high-profile inquiries into atrocities across the UK and they have produced volumes of reports; everyone, its seems, has an opinion: politicians, commissions, the public and the media. Each party has laid out its manifesto for the future, with the key aim of securing votes. The Liberal Democrats have made it clear that they are committed to delivering better care for everyone, emphasising waiting lists, cancer care and mental health. They blame other parties for putting the NHS at risk through privatisation (http://tinyurl. com/las8zan). Whole-person care is a key theme in the Labour Party manifesto, with bold proposals for a year-ofcare payment system for those people who are at greatest risk of being hospitalised; they are proposing a new route into nursing, clinical and social care roles, through apprenticeships and technical degrees and a ‘new future’ for ambulance services as integrated providers of emergency and out-of-hours care. They will create 10 000 nurse training places and 5000 new home-care workers. They have also pledged to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 that they say put profit before patients.These are all key issues that have received much media attention over recent years. Labour has a new plan for your NHS that they suggest will not only protect it but will improve it for years to come, ensuring that the country has a health service that is able to meet the coming challenges. People, they tell us, will get the right care, at the right time, in the right place. It is simple they say, all you have to do is empower people and make care personal to each family, and then it is more likely to work for them and cost less for everyone (http://tinyurl.com/mxagrsv). UKIP leader, Nigel Farrage, reports that, among other things, his party has an unshakeable commitment to a healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery and time of need for all UK residents.

Further use of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) in the NHS will be stopped and local authorities will be encouraged to buy out their PFI contracts. Where there is demand, GPs’ surgeries will be open at least one evening a week and they are opposed to any plans to charge patients for visiting their GP. UKIP has vowed to ensure that foreign health professionals coming to work in the NHS are properly qualified and can speak English to a standard acceptable to the profession (http://tinyurl.com/nf2rdfr). The Conservative Party has unveiled the six key themes for their manifesto: these themes will dominate their election campaign. The themes are dealing with the deficit, jobs, taxes, education, housing and retirement.What is notable about this is that there is little in there about health and the NHS. Party leader David Cameron comments that in eliminating the economic deficit there will not be a penny cut from the NHS (http://tinyurl.com/ofhkhav). As the bickering continues, and it will do so right up until the very last minute, all parties should stop using the NHS as a political football. As a result of years of political mismanagement, the health service and those who work in it are becoming increasingly disheartened and demoralised. An all-party collective strategy for the NHS may be one way forward, and this would remove the service from political propaganda and politicians’ empty rhetoric, truly putting patients and the people who work in the service at the heart of all that is done. All parties, it seems, want to improve the NHS and this should be the overall mission. Politicians should be ashamed of using the NHS to score points. Remember, politicians, there are people’s lives that are affected by your decisions, decisions that you should not make lightly. I would suggest politicians engage in serious dialogue with key stakeholders, including service users and service providers— nurses who also have to make decisions that impact directly on peoples’ lives. Another 5  years of cuts, pay freezes and using a plaster to treat a gaping wound will seriously damage the health of our nation. It seems, however, that we should not worry about the future, regardless of what administration will be ensconced in government (coalition or otherwise), as all Ian Peate political parties are clear on Editor in Chief one thing: that the NHS will British Journal of Nursing be safe in their hands BJN


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The gloves are off: let battle commence.

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