UKIP have promised to spend more on the NHS than Labour, but more importantly their NHS pledge really emphasises just how different UKIP are from the establishment parties.
- UKIP will increase NHS spending by £3billion to help alleviate the problems caused by Labour and Tory mismanagement
- UKIP are the only party that can do this without increasing national debt or raising taxation
- UKIP are the only party to match a targeted spending increase with solutions to alleviate increasing NHS pressure
- UKIP will absolutely not privatise the NHS, and is completely committed to keeping it free at the point of access
By contrast, Labour’s offer, launched this week, boils down to more of the same. Yes, more nurses and more GPs make for great soundbites, and will no doubt feature highly on the (very short) list of “things Labour candidates are allowed to talk about”. But it is just meaningless spin. Labour promise an extra £2.5billion, but also promise to undo the Tories’ £4billion top-down reorganisation. So their extra cash will be spent reorganising the NHS the way they want it, rather than on patient care. The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems are competing with each other to see who can promise to spend the most money, not to help improve patient outcomes at hospitals, but to win the PR war in Westminster.
There are three obvious problems with this old approach, and three reasons why UKIP’s approach is different:
Firstly, it is at best a sticking plaster. As we saw throughout the last Labour government, blindly throwing extra cash at a problem just serves to make the problem more expensive. The NHS budget is already over £100 billion each year, with a £2billion deficit on top. For that sort of money we should not have ambulances queueing outside A&E departments, nor should we be denying life saving drugs to those who need them on grounds of cost. Any serious, sustainable solution must look at NHS waste. Here Labour are crippled by various vested interest groups who will say that there is no room to make efficiency savings. I say that a healthcare organisation where 51% of the staff are not clinically trained could be spending its money better.
Here are some other areas that seem ripe for savings, with the money re-directed to front-line services:
- £166m was paid in bonuses to NHS managers in 2013
- The number of NHS managers earning over £300,000 has doubled in less than a year
- Labour increased the number of bureaucrats and managers within the NHS by 58%, while leaving us with the lowest number of doctors per head in the western world
- £640million was paid last year to NHS management consultants
- At least £7billion is lost to fraud within the NHS every year
- Procurement – the NHS spends £2.32 for a packet of paracetamol, that I can get in Tesco for 23p
Secondly, establishment parties propose to do nothing to address the elephant in room. We hear much about the strain placed on the NHS by an ageing population, but nothing about the strain placed on the NHS by a rapidly increasing population. All three parties have an immigration policy to increase the population by a minimum of one million people in the next parliament. Their pre-election NHS bribes will do little to offset the increased demand for NHS services that population growth of that scale will bring.
UKIP is the only party at this election proposing a controlled, skill-based immigration policy. This means that where we need nurses and doctors from abroad they will be welcomed, while at the same time ending the massive, unsustainable burden on NHS services that an unprecedented increase in population has brought.
Finally the three legacy parties will pay for their increase in NHS spending through either tax increases or increased borrowing, or a combination of both. This is irresponsible in the extreme. To increase national borrowing when we are already paying around £1billion a week to ‘bankers’ in interest payments alone is absolute madness. To increase taxes when households pay more in tax than they do on mortgage, heating, clothing and food is perhaps even worse.
Only UKIP can fund increased NHS spending to deal with the problems caused by Labour and Tories without increasing our national debt or raising taxes. It is shameful how the government can find the money to pay whatever bills the EU decide to send us, but cannot find the money to support the NHS. UKIP think the NHS should be more important than the EU, and would therefore pay for this £3billion increase in spending using some of the £10billion we will save each year in membership fees when we leave the EU.
UKIP will also address the long term problems in the NHS. Like most other countries around the world, foreign visitors and migrants to the UK should take out health insurance before they travel. Providing care for non-British nationals is estimated to cost the NHS £2billion a year. By simply controlling our borders and ensuring that those who do come have their own health insurance, the NHS would be able to balance its books. UKIP will scrap tuition fees for medical degrees, helping to ensure that we don’t have to drain other countries of their brightest and best in order to staff our own health service.
Medium term we need a proper, grown up discussion about what we want the NHS to do and how best to fund and deliver that. But for now UKIP’s extra funding, fully costed, delivered where it is needed most, will make all the difference. As with so many issues, you can choose to vote for more of the same on May 7th. Or you can vote for UKIP, the only party with the independence of thought and freedom from vested interests necessary to deliver what the UK needs.