Green health views amongst the majority

31 May 2009

A recent survey of healthcare workers in the East of England conducted by the Green Party, has found that Green Party health policies are in line with many of the views expressed, particularly on many key points of principle, such as the price of healthcare provision and privatisation.

The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all support further privatisation in the NHS. This is far out of line with the opinions of the real people surveyed who are working in healthcare.

The Green Party found that 70% of respondents agreed (‘agreed' or ‘strongly agreed') with the statement ‘further privatisation in the NHS should be avoided'.

And 73% of respondents believed the use of private cleaning companies for NHS contracts may increase the risks of infections like MRSA on hospital wards and should be avoided. The Royal College of Nursing (2) and the Green Party both agree, while the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems oppose any re-nationalisation of cleaning services in the NHS.

Cllr. Rupert Read, lead Green MEP candidate for the Eastern Region, commented:

"Greens have always recognised that the privatisation of the NHS is incompatible with democratic accountability and with well-run hospitals. The failure of New Labour's Public Private Partnerships, which so often delivers poorer service and can run over budget, is a clear example of these problems.

And this issue is especially pertinent to the Eastern region at the moment, as Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire is currently threatened with conversion to ‘foundation' status, which is just privatisation with a less threatening name."

The Green Party survey found that 83% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘a greater role in health provision should be afforded to local health centres, as opposed to very large regional hospitals'. The Green Party is the only party committed to a program of genuine ‘relocalisation' and decentralization of public services in the name of accountability and local choice.

77% of respondents agreed that healthcare should always be free to the consumer at the point of delivery. The Lib Dems merely say they would ‘review' prescription charges if they came to power and Labour and the Tories continue to support charges. The Green Party on the other hand, opposes on principle all charging for health except through the taxation system - a genuine position of principle that healthcare should be "free at the point of need".

Cllr. Read said

"Healthcare is a basic human right. If patients are forced to pay for their healthcare, unless through progressive taxation, poorer and less healthy patients lose out at the expense of those lucky enough to be wealthier and healthier. And though the price may start small, there is a slippery slope issue here. Many basic services are now charged for unless there are exemptions - such as prescriptions, most dental check-ups and dental work, eye tests and glasses and so on. We should not go down the road towards a health system like the mess in the US, where many people just don't have health insurance."

Respondents to the Green party survey were unanimous in agreeing that complementary medicine should be provided on the NHS if there was evidence that it worked. The Greens Party agrees that complementary medicine should be provided when appropriate.

63% of respondents agreed with a central Green policy advocating increasing the amount of money spent on prevention of health problems and on health promotion schemes.

And a majority agreed (and only 6% disagreed) that the public have a right to assisted dying in very tightly controlled and assessed situations where a patient has a terminal illness and has requested assistance. The Green Party recognizes the complex moral and personal issues surrounding this issue but believes that, under very specific and strict conditions, a person should have a right to end their life with dignity rather than in severe pain.

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