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Health leaders demand politicians set out clear NHS mandate

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A broad coalition of health and social care leaders has called on all political parties to make a manifesto commitment of at least £4bn to fund NHS service changes over the next parliament, LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal has been told.

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The demand is one of 15 set to be issued by the group of leading national organisations as they urge politicians to set out and debate their plans before the general election in May 2015 to ensure the next government has a clear mandate for service change.

The 21 groups expected to back the “2015 Challenge Manifesto” include the NHS Confederation, the Foundation Trust Network, the Royal College of Nursing, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, National Voices and Age UK.

HSJ understands they will also call on the parties to make public commitments that they will not impose another top-down structural reorganisation on the NHS.

Confederation chief executive Rob Webster told HSJ the document will call for the next government to put in place a “transition fund” of at least £2bn a year of new money over two years to allow upfront investment in better and more efficient models of care.

Mr Webster accused both ministers and their Labour counterparts of a “conspiracy of silence” over the NHS so far in the run up to the 2015 general election.

He told HSJ that whichever party clinched victory in May needed to “have a mandate for the changes ahead”.

“We want a debate about the future of the NHS before the election,” he said. “I cannot think of a time when 21 organisations representing nurses, managers, patients, local government and national charities have come together like this and I think politicians have a duty to listen.

“We expect party conferences to have these debates and party conferences to reflect these debates.

“We cannot just have short term fixes and lurch from crisis to crisis. If we want change - and changes are needed to make the NHS sustainable - we need a one-off investment to pay for that change.

“We can argue about the amount [of money required] but the principle seems pretty sound to me.”

The move comes after a Liberal Democrat “pre-manifesto” document published last week said the party would “guarantee the NHS budget will rise by at least the rate of inflation” in “every year” of the next Parliament, while also commissioning “a fundamental review of NHS and social care finances in 2015, before the next spending review, in order to assess the pressures on NHS budgets and the scope for efficiencies”.

This, it said, would “allow us to set multi-year budgets that will be sufficient to maintain and improve the current standard of NHS services including keeping waiting times down”.

 

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