My plan for health

by Steff on 19 February, 2024

Under this Conservative Government the UK has only become sicker and is lagging far behind its international peers. Instead of taking action they have allowed our health to decline, particularly that of children. 

To make matters worse, more than 7 million people are currently waiting for NHS treatment, cancer wait times targets continue to be missed across the board, and demand for GPs services continues to outstrip supply.

50% of the health burden across the country is lifestyle induced. We must tackle this head on, to ensure that people have good physical health, mental health, and social health, and to protect our NHS for the future.  

With the benefit of 20 years in industry, I’ve had the opportunity to see how large organisations can genuinely transform the way they work to become fit for the modern age. This modern transformation hasn’t just come about through their use of the Internet, which I recognise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But whether or not you’re online, a lot of the progress we’ve seen in recent times has come about because of the arrival of the world wide web.  It’s encouraged people to be more communicative, to have more sources of information. And to be more vocal about what they think, and when they don’t get what they believe they should be getting – whether that’s from a business or a politician.  For me, these are some of the good things that offset the bad.  

When I look at our public and political institutions, however, I don’t see that transformation writ large. It’s almost like they haven’t changed much for 30 years and yet these public and social institutions are desperately in need of modernisation. The fact that we can get a personal service from a business we buy from, but we have to wait in line to be processed multiple times by different departments, within Councils, NHS and social care really underlines how remarkably unreformed these parts of our society have remained.

Our health system is the most significant example of this. It was designed 75 years ago, when the needs it was meeting were to treat acute or terminal illness and injury.

Today, modern healthcare is as much about prevention as it is treatment. The job of our health and care system is therefore surely to keep people living healthily, and detect conditions quickly, so that we live well in older age and that multiple chronic conditions can be treated successfully. It’s also about mental health and how important it is that mental health services have the equivalent status of physical health. And indeed, how the two are intertwined, both in cause, symptom and treatment. 

But that is not a job we are set up well to do, given the fragmentation – which has been caused not simply by the Conservatives’ attempts to privatise parts of the NHS or force those who can afford to do so to pay.  But by the fact that elderly care is funded by councils, whereas health is funded by the NHS, that until recently dentistry sat completely outside of the commissioning of NHS services, and that there really is no parity for mental health when it comes to funding, performance reporting and prioritisation. And that we still don’t have a way of treating the entire person and tracking the health requirements of each individual throughout their lives.

These are all things which are within our grasp thanks to the power of modern computing, even if the way that some people prefer to deal with health services is face-to-face. Data and technology are powerful tools to ensure that each of us gets a personalised, preemptive, lifelong experience from our health service. And Britain is uniquely well positioned to lead the world in the transformation and modernisation of healthcare in this way.

The Liberal Democrats want a healthier and brighter future for all. I am, with my Liberal Democrat colleagues, committed to transforming the health of the nation, including but not limited to:

1. Focus on Prevention and People’s Health: Make the improvement of the nation’s health a key priority for government, emphasising prevention, addressing inequalities, and adopting an ‘invest to save’ funding model.

2. Empowering Communities: Progressively restore the Public Health Grant to 2015 levels, with a proportion of these funds set aside for local communities experiencing the worst health inequalities to co-produce plans on how the money should be spent in their area.

3. Children’s Health: Ban energy drink sales to under 16s, only allowing junk-food advertising after 9pm, and grant local authorities powers to restrict junk-food advertising and unhealthy food outlets near schools.

4. Promoting Movement: Launch a government-backed nationwide campaign to encourage exercise and healthier habits, dedicating an existing bank holiday for wellness events.

5. Schools and Hospitals: Implement higher food standards in schools and hospitals to ensure every child and patient receives a healthy balanced diet.

6. Vaping: Tackle vaping and smoking among children with standardised packaging, advertising restrictions and banning disposable vapes. Reduce vaping among non-smokers, while recognising the important role vaping plays in helping adults quit smoking.

7. Blood Pressure Checks: Widen access to blood pressure tests in community spaces like pharmacies and libraries to reach underserved populations.

8. Social Prescribing: Invest in community projects that counter loneliness and share best practice across local authorities, the NHS, GPs, and primary care services.

9. Digital Health: Introduce a new kite-mark for clinically proven health apps, enabling individuals to manage their own health.10. Critical Health Infrastructure: Consider a new national designation to safeguard local health facilities in times of crisis.

Liberal Democrats believe that investing in prevention through public health initiatives and primary care is the most effective way to enhance well-being and reduce the burden on NHS services.

These new policies will set us on the path to a healthier future for our country.

   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>