Statement from Dr Louise Irvine of the National Health Action Party, prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Surrey, constituency of Jeremy Hunt
"It's becoming a joke how every time Cameron, Osborne, Hunt or any cabinet minister is interviewed, you'll hear them repeat their mantra like robots - "You need a strong economy for a strong NHS." Clearly they're going for the brainwashing technique. But it won't wash. They're offering us neither a strong economy nor a strong NHS.
"If the past few months of NHS life under David Cameron are anything to go by, another 5 years of the Tories will mean a worsening A&E crisis, more social care cuts trapping elderly patients in hospital beds, longer queues for GPs, cancer patients at risk from waiting longer for treatment, more mental health patients left without beds, and accelerating privatisation.
"The Tory mantra is meaningless. The Tories haven't given us a strong economy - unless you think a million people using foodbanks, falling tax receipts, growing social ineqalities and savage cuts to public services are signs of a strong economy. The Tories have failed to meet their own deficit targets and have been embarrassingly caught out telling porkies on their election poster. So David Cameron's failure to deliver a strong economy immediately torpedoes his own basis for giving us a strong NHS. The Tory mantra becomes: vote Tory for a weak economy and a weak NHS.
"Secondly, the Tories ignore the strong economic evidence that austerity drives up health inequalities and demand on the NHS, that investing in healthcare actually stimulates economic growth, and that widening the wealth gap hampers economic growth.
"Thirdly, David Cameron acts as though he's sorted the NHS funding gap. He hasn't. He hasn't explained how he's finding the £8bn that NHS boss Simon Stevens said is needed. Let's remember that the NHS offer made in George Osborne's Autumn Statement was based on recycled NHS money and dodgy bankers' fines. Meanwhile the Lib Dems have offered two related injections of £1 billion from 2017, and Labour has promised £2.5 billion also in 2017 – by which point the financial crisis already brewing in the NHS will be boiling over into mass cuts and closures.
"What's more worrying is that none of the parties are talking about the real NHS funding gap. Simon Stevens' plan only addresses £8bn of the £30bn spending gap facing the NHS. Mr Stevens seems to think the NHS can find £22bn more of efficiency savings. The NHS has already had £20bn of cuts dressed up as efficiency savings. The idea of another £22bn is pie in the sky.
"The public need to realise that we have the lowest spending on healthcare as a share of GDP of all the G7 nations. But none of the three main political parties is committed to raise NHS spending by anything like as much as is needed.
The National Health Action Party is putting forward a genuine alternative plan that would break now from the spending freeze and start with an immediate injection of extra funding, if necessary raised through taxation, of just a penny in the pound. The vast majority of voters back extra tax to support the NHS. This would be followed by realistic efficiency savings based on stripping away the wasteful bureaucracy that is diverting billions of pounds away from frontline patient care: internal markets, commissioning support units, management consultancy fees, the cost of procurement of clinical services, profit-taking by private providers, the cost of fragmenting pathways due to outsourcing components to private contractors, and PFI deals bankrupting our hospitals. We would also focus on measures to force the rich and big business to stop dodging billions of pounds a year in taxes and pay their fair share towards the public services and health care we all need."