In another in our #GE2019 series, we ask the candidates standing for election in South West Norfolk.
We asked: Our NHS is often used as a ‘political football’ during elections, but on the ground QEH hospital is in ‘special measures’ and waiting times for a GP appointment seem to be getting longer. People really feel our NHS is under great stress. What will you do to improve our hospital and GP surgeries locally?
Pallavi Devulapalli – Green Party
I will start by ensuring funding for the NHS is increased in line with the current population needs, ring fenced and increased in line with inflation as a permanent measure, to stop political interference. I will help train more nurses and doctors and work to remove barriers to people entering these professions, and support efforts to introduce nursing courses through local colleges and provide bursaries to incentivize people to take it up. I will also ensure public health is given the funding and attention it so badly needs which will stop people becoming ill in the first place. The QEH is an essential hospital for people in this area and I will lobby for it to be given significant capital funding so that the building is updated and made fit for medicine in the 21st century.
Josie Ratcliffe – Liberal Democrats
Our Liberal Democrat plan is to raise income tax by 1% with all the additional revenue from that directed to provide an immediate, large scale funding injection to the NHS. Tax rises may not always be popular, but we need to be honest about the cost of running public services and not pretend that we can have world class health and social care without paying for it. We’d like to set up a cross-party health and social care commission, to agree a solution for long term funding that will be accepted between all the major parties so people can have confidence that politicians won’t be playing football with the care they and their family need.
We can do more to reduce strain on the NHS, and two important areas there are that we’d put some of that new funding towards public health approaches, and towards giving better parity of esteem to healthcare for mental illness so people’s problems there can be tackled at an earlier stage, something North Norfolk’s outgoing Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb has spent many years fighting for and which I’m very committed to as well. Ultimately, though, we have a growing, and ageing, population and everyone deserves to have faith that the system will give them effective, properly funded treatment. Our plan for a broad-based, fairly distributed tax increase dedicated to the health budget is the fair and credible way to provide that.
Emily Blake – Labour Party
As a user of QEH and someone with friends who work in the NHS I can absolutely say that our hospitals are struggling and people suffer as a consequence, those working and those in need of the services. I lost a friend this year due to a mismanagement within the hospital, I’m still in alot of pain from this and I imagine those involved must feel awful too, I can’t help but wonder if the resources, the beds and staff numbers were there would the outcome have been different.
Personally I am seeking help with tinnitus and blocked pressure in my head/ears and it honestly took years to get referred to the hospital, the waits are long and to even get a GP appointment to begin with is extremely different. This past week I have called three times and have been on the phone 25 minutes before giving up.
GP surgery closures need to be halted and fought for. I will speak to residents and make sure their voices are heard. Local hospitals will benefit from investment and a halt to privatisation. Patients, staff and visitors can wave goodbye to parking charges, the parking charges are extortionate in my view and I find it disturbing that anyone should have to pay to park at a hospital. Mandatory food standards in hospitals will be introduced. GP training places will be expanded so that there are resources for 27 million more appointments each year. Mental health hospitals will also see a 2 billion pound modernisation. In addition Labour will end prescription charges and provide free dental check ups too. Our local hospitals and gp surgeries will benefit extremely from Labour’s policies. I love the 1 million trees proposal, creating a therapeutic space for patients and indeed staff but also creating clean air and helping our environment too.
The other candidates are Liz Truss (Conservative) and Earl Elvis of Outwell (Monster Raving Loony).