Peterborough election debate: Health and the NHS

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The Peterborough parliamentary candidates put forward their plans for the future of the NHS.

John Fox - independent

The NHS will be a major election issue.

It remains so for both me and my family but I fear that politicians, whether knowingly or otherwise, are contributing to the downfall of a health service.

Because of constant change and political micro-management, the world’s finest and once-renowned institution is more fragmented than ever before and is effectively rudderless - yet still swamped by politicians and management consultants who all claim to have a ‘remedy to its ailment’.

I am standing on an ‘independent’ ticket and I do not claim to have all the answers like most candidates seem to, but I do know the public would be content if their NHS simply continues to be free at the point of entry.

They would be pleased to see health care that is local, easy to access and one to trust and feel at home with. However, I will offer a warning that to meet these demands there is a pressing need for government to make General Practice a realistic career of choice for doctors.

It has to be a priority before political meddling succeeds in destroying the NHS within a generation.

And all because nationwide local practices are becoming increasingly at risk due to 15 per cent fewer applications from professionals wishing to be GPs.

A recent British Medical Association survey suggests that a third of family doctors are considering retirement soon because they feel unable to provide patients with a service they deserve.

Nationally, the NHS should be allowed to deliver a health service that is world class, but as far as Peterborough is concerned I would hope to secure the future of its local delivery first.

I will work with any government that will cease to make unrealistic promises, stop setting impossible targets and bring an end to continual and fruitless reform.

Darren Bisby-Boyd - Green Party

Imagine the health service is one hundred per cent publicly funded. A health service in which individual and local knowledge take the place of protocols and pathways and free social and nursing care is provided for the elderly.

We all deserve an NHS whereby doctors and nurses can make decisions based on their principal aim and can offer prompt care which can be locally accessed. This is the Green Party’s joined-up approach to health and wellbeing.

We will end NHS privatisation. We will maintain a publicly-funded, publicly-provided health service free at the point of use.

Money spent on health will remain in the public economy, supporting the NHS rather than going into private companies’ profits. We will repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and introduce an NHS Reinstatement Bill which has been presented to parliament by Green MP Caroline Lucas, for which I have pledged my support. This will restrict the role of commercial companies and end market-based commissioning and procurement. The Green Party would immediately increase the overall NHS budget by £12 billion a year to overcome the current funding crisis, increase investment in mental health care and provide free dentistry, chiropody and prescriptions in England.

We need to restore the NHS in this country and re-establish accountability by reversing more than two decades of policies.

I will be campaigning and standing up for a genuinely public national health service. It is a Green MP who will take the fight to government and put the public back at the heart of our NHS System.

On May 7 vote for what you believe in, don’t settle for the lesser of two evils. The Green Party offers a real alternative to austerity and I believe I can make a real difference to the people of Peterborough and together save our beloved NHS.

Lisa Forbes - Labour Party

Labour created the NHS. It’s one of our proudest achievements and is highly regarded the world over and worth defending.

In the 1990s the NHS was in crisis after years of Tory neglect and chronic underfunding.

Waiting times for operations and cancer treatments were long and there were regular stories of patients on trolleys for hours in hallways.

Labour came to office in 1997 and set about saving our NHS. When Labour left office public satisfaction levels were at their highest, but after just five years of a Conservative government the NHS is at crisis point again.

The NHS is being privatised by the back door. Twenty million people are waiting up to a week to see their GP. Huge cuts to the adult social care budget has meant Peterborough Hospital had to declare a ‘major incident’ this year.

Elderly patients who weren’t sick enough to need hospital care, but were not well enough to go home, couldn’t get the community care they needed.

I warned of this when they closed the council-run residential care homes for the elderly two years ago. These had provided valuable intermediate and respite care.

It just serves to remind us that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.

Nigel Farage can’t be trusted either - he was caught on film in 2012 saying we’d have to look at an American insurance based system of healthcare.

Labour rescued the NHS before and we’ll do it again.

We will recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs funded by a Mansion Tax.

We’ll guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours and a maximum one-week wait for cancer treatment as well as recruit 5,000 more care workers to tackle the scandal of 15 minute care slots.

To find out more on Labour’s health policy visit

Chris Ash - Liberal Party

The NHS – originally a Liberal Party concept – has been battered by successive governments.

Consultation surveys, targets and league tables have not contributed to  improved health  but have wasted time adding burdens to already overworked staff, many  of whom do a fantastic job for low wages, often in difficult conditions.

The welcome increase in life expectancy and new medical developments means many people have complex, long-term, multi-faceted health needs.  Looking after people in their own homes should be viewed as a civilised, rather than just the cheap, option.  A lack of funding in this area is worse than institutionalisation as it hits the carer  as well as the cared for.

People should not be abandoned to the crudity of market forces.

Instead of hugely expensive top-down ‘reforms’ every few years, governments should direct their attention to research, education and prevention. For instance, we urgently need to force food and drink companies to dramatically lower the salt and sugar content of their products as these two simple additives cause an array of health problems for people of all ages but are very worrying for young children whose teen and adult health will be damaged. We all pay in to the NHS so it belongs to us -citizens and staff - not to any government or party.

We should demand that it addresses our real and urgent issues and does not stack up further costly problems for coming generations.

Clearly, there has always been some private involvement in the NHS such as provision of hospital equipment and the production of medication. However, we are entirely opposed to the discredited Labour government’s ‘PPI’s (Public-Private Initiatives) for which we are now paying dearly, and to the Tory - LibDem government’s creeping privatisation of essential and fundamental NHS services. Frankly, it’s not safe with either of them.

Stewart Jackson - Conservative Party

My priority as MP over the last 10 years was always about protecting our local NHS and I’ve intervened with cabinet ministers to do so.

People across our community care about the NHS and it belongs to all of us and not any one party.

Sadly, Labour’s incompetence left our local hospital with the biggest debt in the whole of the NHS which our grandchildren will still be paying off. Labour also privatised Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Uncontrolled immigration and their GP contract has left A & E in our area under massive pressure.

By contrast, Conservatives have boosted nursing staff at Peterborough City Hospital by 14 per cent and doctors by nine per cent since 2010 and the number of operations has risen too.

Nationally, we’ve protected NHS spending, increasing it by above the inflation rate every year.

We’ve set up a Cancer Drugs Fund benefiting over 60,000 people. We’ve cut 19,000 management jobs but boosted nurse numbers by 6,900 and doctors by 9,500.

We’ve increased seven-day-a-week GP cover, guaranteeing same day appointments for the over 75s with more to come across the UK. We’ve halved the time people wait to be assessed for A & E. We have doubled funding for dementia research. Hospital infections have halved.

An independent think tank, the Commonwealth Fund, has found that under the Conservatives the NHS has become the best healthcare system of any major country. Patients are reporting the highest levels of satisfaction for years.

The NHS is performing well in the face of increasing demand with fewer patients waiting longer than the 18, 26 and 52-week targets than in May 2010.

Under the Conservatives, a stronger economy will mean more money for better and improving healthcare which will always be free at the point of need.

Mary Herdman - UKIP

Labour’s endless lies about UKIP and the NHS are a sign of sheer desperation.

It is a downright lie to say that we want to privatise the NHS and it is the height of hypocrisy coming from a party that is responsible for giving £10 billion of NHS money a year to profit-making investors.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have been responsible for privatising vast chunks of the NHS.

The NHS under UKIP will be totally free at the point of delivery and need. UKIP will also allocate an extra £3 billion a year into the NHS.

However, things do need to change at the core of the NHS and we recognise that the NHS is 

UKIP will probe deep to identify underlying problems and will make such changes as are necessary.

Firstly, it is an absolute travesty that our own British youngsters are unable to train as nurses.

We need to go back to learning the job on the wards.

Nursing is about caring and practical experience dealing with real patients. It is not about having a pseudo medical degree.

We want everyone who visits Britain to have private medical insurance as a condition of entry.

All visitors to the UK and migrants who have paid National Insurance for five years will then be entitled to use the NHS.

We want to scrap hospital parking charges.

We will not charge tuition fees for anyone wishing to train as a doctor.

Under UKIP we will also look at the management structure of the NHS.

We feel it is too top heavy with managerial staff and not enough doctors and nurses.

UKIP is the only party that would not sell off parts of the NHS.

It will always be free under UKIP. Please vote UKIP on May 7.

Darren Fower - Liberal Democrat

Having served for several years on the city council’s Health Scrutiny Committee and coupled with my day-time job of working for a charity supporting people with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus, I’m aware of what the health problems are in our city.

That’s why I’m asking for YOUR vote on May 7 so that we can:

Ensure access to health care is based on need and not ability to pay, and that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery.

Deliver the money needed for England’s NHS by continuing real-terms protection of the NHS budget until we have balanced the books in 2017/18 – with a £1 billion boost on top of this protection.

Join up health and care at national level, shifting full responsibility for care policy and funding to the Department of Health.

I’m proud the Liberal Democrats are placing mental health at the forefront.

One in four will experience mental health problems, but for decades mental health has been the last i
n the queue for funding and attention.

Lib Dems in government have invested £400m in increasing access to talking therapies and £150m in help for people with eating disorders, but there is still a long way to go.

So we intend to increase mental health spending in England’s NHS by £500m a year by 2016/17.

Local people need health services that fit around their lives, not ones that force them to fit their lives around the care they need.

If you do decide to make history on May 7, and elect the first ever non Labour or Tory MP for this city, I 
can assure you I will do all I can to improve health standards in our city.

Please let me know your thoughts on the NHS by posting a comment at