General Election 2015: Health and Research Policies
In the last week the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party have unveiled their manifestos for the upcoming election, with all the parties putting the health system at the centre of their offers to the public. The proposals will form the vast majority of health policy for the next five years and we welcome policies from both sides that will improve the lives of cancer patients. We look forward to forming a productive relationship with the next Government and helping to find a cure for brain tumours.
The Conservative Party has pledged to continue to increase spending on the NHS by around £8 billion by 2020 in order to meet the plans and goals set out by the NHS England plan Five Year Forward View. The manifesto also lays out plans for a 7 day a week NHS by 2020 and guaranteed same day appointments for over 75s. Pledges to improve cancer services include the full implementation of the Cancer Taskforce’s recommendations, continuation of the Cancer Drugs Fund and a promise to “support research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases and cancers” with an increased move towards personalised treatments.
The Liberal Democrats set out its policies for the NHS under the banner of Protecting the NHS and Improving Health. There is a large focus on ensuring that the NHS receives the £8 billion investment laid out in the Five Year Forward View, bringing the standards of mental health services up to those of physical health and making GP services easier to access. The Liberal Democrats also promise to repeal certain areas of the Health and Social Care Act, ensure TTIP does not include the NHS and bring cancer survival rates up to match the best in Europe.
The Labour Party unveiled its plans to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, curb ‘market forces’ in the system and join up physical health, mental health and social care in one system. Labour will aim to save 10,000 lives every year by improving cancer survival through ensuring early diagnosis with faster turnaround of test results and increased access to new radiotherapy and surgeries, as well as cancer drugs, in a new Cancer Treatment Fund. This Fund will replace the current Cancer Drugs Fund, expanding the fund to all forms of innovative cancer therapies, and will stand alongside a scheme to improve access to clinical trials and maintain the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.
As well specific policies in the health system we welcome the commitments all three parties have made to continue investment in scientific research. The Conservatives pledged £6.9 billion for research infrastructure in UK in order to boost efforts into ‘curing diseases, driving technological innovation promoting business investment and informing public policy for the better’. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats also highlight their commitment to building on the UK’s strengths in science and research, with Labour proposing ‘a new long-term funding policy framework’ for the sector and the Liberal Democrats promising to ring fence the science budget until 2020. These commitments are essential in the fight to find a cure for brain tumours and all three main parties have solid plans for ensuring this remains a possibility.
There are a number of promising policies in all manifestos that if implemented will make a real difference to the lives of people with brain tumours and their loved ones. However, we are disappointed by the lack of explicit commitments to fund research into the cancers that overwhelmingly kill children and adults before their time. As we have argued in our manifesto, an increased spend on brain tumour research to £30-£35 million each year is essential and to save lives and we will be campaigning for this whoever forms the Government after the 8th May.