Values and Principles
HE100 Health is the condition in which individuals and communities achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential. Health for individuals is only possible in the context of a healthy environment and society. The healthy society is one which guarantees a safe and clean environment; material security for all its citizens; good work; adequate housing; a balanced and unpolluted diet and clean water; appropriate education; a safe transport system; accessible and sensitive public services; equality of opportunity; and a secure present and hope for the future. All Green Party policies are designed to promote the health of individuals, communities and society.
HE101 Ill health exists at many levels: a diseased organ within a stressed person, a sick individual within an uncaring society, or a sick society within an overstrained and collapsing ecosystem. To achieve improved individual, social and environmental health, effective interventions at all levels are needed. Current theory and practice place too much emphasis on interventions at the biochemical and individual levels, too little on the social and ecological. Achieving better health requires a balanced, integrated and holistic understanding and approach.
HE102 The organisation and use of health care services is only one of the factors which impacts our health. To a large extent, factors such as where we live, the state of our environment, genetics, our income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health.However, willingness and ability to care for its vulnerable members are essential features of a compassionate society.. Free market mechanisms cannot adequately meet health needs, or effectively constrain costs. Proper healthcare for all and the responsible use of resources both require the continued provision of well-financed and publicly-funded health services.
HE103 Health services can create dependence on the part of users, which is itself unhealthy. Individuals can through properly informed choice, and when adequately supported, acquire much greater responsibility for their own health, and the health of their families. However, true freedom of choice cannot be exercised without the economic and political power to choose, at present denied to the majority.
HE104 Healthcare is not a commodity to be bought or sold. The National Health Service must provide healthcare, free at the point of need, funded through taxation. It must be a public service funded by, run by and accountable to local and national government and devoid of all privatisation, whether privatised administration, healthcare provision, support services or capital ownership. The NHS is concerned with healthcare provision and should not be subject to market forces either internal or external.
HE200 To promote public health through policies designed to secure a healthy urban and rural environment, healthy work, healthy agriculture and food, healthy education, a healthy transport system and healthy local economic development. (FD300s)
HE201 To devise new economic models using quality of life and health indicators as the target variables to be optimised. Policies to achieve these targets will be integrated into overall economic strategy. Health-promoting policies will be mediated by social investment at national, regional and community levels.
HE202 To develop a new public health consciousness, which, through individual and collective action, will challenge vested interests and promote the personal, social and political changes needed to achieve improved states of health.
HE203 To develop health services which place as much emphasis on illness prevention, health promotion and the development of individual and community self-reliance as on the treatment and cure of disease. Such services will of necessity be empowering, participatory and democratic and their development will be guided by users' own perceptions of their health needs.
HE204 To ensure that health care services are delivered with compassion, taking into consideration patients full range of needs, health care will be delivered in an environment that promotes healing and care. This includes single sex wards in hospitals, ensuring that maternity care is of the highest quality, ensuring that care reflects people's needs and that care promotes the dignity of all patients.
HE205 The Green Party supports the continued development of national minimum standards of care across the entire range of health services. Local people should decide what and how services are provided and should have complete flexibility to meet local needs as long as services meet minimum standards.
HE206 All healthcare whether intended to promote wellbeing or treat illness will be provided equally to all people to all regardless of economic, social or cultural status. Organisations providing health services will be expected to monitor and improve any inequality in delivery of services. This will apply to levels of income as well as other equality and diversity strands including gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or cultural background, faith, disability including learning difficulties, trans people or age.
HE207 The Green Party recognises that the Health Service, and all public services, influence the life of the community and the country. It is important that there is no discrimination in employment and that the NHS is a leader in challenging racism, homophobia, transphobia, and prejudice and discrimination based on disabilities or faith.
HE300 This policy sets out how services will be delivered and regulated. It expands on our values and principles where necessary but it will not make judgements on individual treatments or medicines unless as a point of principle. All services will be available without charge at the time of need.
Community Health Centres
HE301 Funding will be diverted away from centralised facilities towards community healthcare, illness prevention and health promotion. Community Health Centres will be the focal points for self-help and community-based initiatives and will also provide a wide range of services including primary healthcare, and health education and health promotion programmes. A variety of specialist services, in particular midwifery, obstetrics, family planning, counselling and psychiatry, will also be available. The midwifery and obstetric service will be such that a real option of home delivery is created. To permit the availability of the widest possible range of services and interventions, staff will be organised into multi-disciplinary teams. The public will be provided with easier direct access to nurse practitioners and other non-medical health and social care workers.
HE303 All women should be entitled to the highest standards of care during pregnancy and birth, and post-natally. These standards will be maintained for all regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, level of income, black and ethnic minority background, age or disability. We will ensure that women are given the information they need to make appropriate choices about how they wish to give birth, and that a full range of options, including home birth and a range of styles of hospital delivery, is made available to all women.
HE304 The incidence of medical intervention in childbirth has escalated in recent years, particularly the rate of caesarean sections, which are expensive and, when not medically required, risky. We will work to reduce the number of interventions in childbirth, and change the culture of the NHS so that birth is treated as a normal and non-medical event, in which mothers are empowered and able to be in control.
HE305 All women will be entitled to the care of a single midwife through prenatal care, birth and the first month of post-natal care, in line with the model of care currently provided by independent midwives. This will be made possible by initiatives to improve the recruitment and retention of midwives.
HE306 We will ensure that the NHS embraces the current quality and style of care as offered by Independent Midwives so that they are able to work within the NHS system and offer this type of care to all women in a single tier system. We shall ensure that midwifery training places are increased to meet medium and long term needs. This will be achieved by: ensuring that terms and conditions for midwives are improved, increasing investment in midwifery services to ensure that these policies are delivered, specific funding for midwife training along with targeted recruitment drives, and ensuring that the culture of midwifery services is supportive for both mothers and midwives.
HE307 All women and their partners will be offered a full range of psychological support after birth to help deal with trauma and post-natal depression. The Green Party will ensure that baby clinics are open for adequate hours, so that women can get access to health visitors and take their babies for regular check-ups at a location and time that is convenient for them.
HE308 Maternity units should be sufficient in number and located so that all women are within reasonable reach of one. Special Care Baby units will be expanded in line with the increasing number of babies that need intensive care, but special attention will also be given to preventative efforts to reduce the number of low birthweight and other problems that contribute to this need. Funds allocated for maternity services should be ringfenced to ensure that they are used for the intended purpose.
HE309 Throughout maternity services the focus will be on compassion and on providing a safe, supportive environment. Complaints will be treated with sympathy, and systems arranged to ensure that complaints can be registered easily and are investigated properly, challenging the 'conspiracy of silence' that discourages women from speaking about their traumatic experiences for fear of frightening other women.
HE310 The Green Party recognises that breastfeeding has multiple short and long term health benefits for babies. Mothers who have breastfed also have lower risks of diabetes and some cancers. However, in the UK women who want to breastfeed often feel unsupported and most stop before they wanted to. Around a quarter of women feel unable to breastfeed for various reasons. For some people, there is still a stigma attached to breastfeeding in public. The law does not currently effectively stop attempts to discourage breastfeeding. Furthermore, artificial feeding products ('formula') are heavily promoted. These, along with the equipment they require, may interfere with the initiation or continuation of breastfeeding.
HE314 Increased and protected funding of community services will enable healthcare as far as possible to be provided at home or in community-based facilities. Community services for frail elderly people and disabled people, including those with enduring mental and physical health problems or with learning difficulties will be increased. This will ensure that everyone who needs it will receive high quality care and support, and will put them in the position to lead as independent and self-determined a life as possible based on their individual needs and circumstances. Transfer of patients from hospital to community care will be matched by an appropriate allocation of resources.
HE315 Primary and hospital care will be more closely integrated. District staffing structures will be reviewed, with the aim of integrating hospital-based specialists into primary care and community health workers into hospital practice. The hospital programme will emphasise the development of appropriately sized district and community hospitals, with a reduced role for larger regional centres. However, some specialised services will continue to be provided on a regional or sub-regional basis.
HE316 Hospitals will focus on services for patients needing inpatient care. Accident and Emergency Departments will be for emergencies only with care for minor illnesses and injuries provided for by community health centres.
HE317 The Green Party is opposed to the development of "Foundation Hospitals" which, although argued to be locally controlled, could actually result in reduced democratic accountability given that they will be unanswerable to parliament or local authorities.
Occupational Health Services
HE318 The statutory requirements that workplaces provide occupational health services, with standards of training and equipment appropriate to their particular hazards, will be strengthened. The criteria for such provision will be made as clear and as simple as possible, and loopholes permitting unscrupulous employers to minimise provision will be closed. Particular support and attention will be given to the occupational health needs of employees in small organisations and firms. The role of Health and Safety inspectors in enforcing these requirements will be strengthened and enlarged. The provision of basic self-help medical training to all workers will be encouraged and we shall require employers to allow time off work for such training.
HE319 Health education and health promotion will become central aspects of the practice of the majority of health workers, who should take part in health advocacy in all areas of local and national policy where health is at issue. In particular, health workers should promote community health initiatives. Closer working relationships will be developed between health workers, the voluntary sector, communities, families and individuals. (see FD300, DU410)
Choice of Treatments
H320 The Green Party will set up within legislation the practice of patient empowerment, with the right of individuals who are to receive treatment to have full and detailed knowledge as to their condition and the range of treatments available.
Health in Schools
HE321 The Green Party believes much more can be done in schools to prevent illness by caring for children and educating children about health. We lament the disappearance of the School Nurse and would therefore bring back a dedicated NHS School Nurse in every school, both at primary and secondary level. Qualified nurses would be specially trained to give lessons in health awareness, including diet, as well as providing an on-site primary healthcare service to all pupils and students.
HE322 The Green Party believes a good diet is so important in the promotion of good health that all schools will be obliged to have their own kitchen so as to be able to provide for each child a freshly prepared lunch each day, using fresh, organic and local produce wherever possible. Food provided by schools must include both vegetarian and vegan options. We would continue the school Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, with a strong preference for organic and local produce. Such meals will be free to all children and will be paid for out of increased taxation: we believe that the consequent improvement in health will dramatically reduce the costs of illness and social care to the NHS and other public services. Junk foods and vending machines will become unavailable in state schools."
HE323 We believe physical exercise is beneficial to the promotion of good health development, and so more time and resources will be made available to allow children to participate in sports and games at school, ideally on a daily basis.
HE324 The Green Party will support research into healthcare at all levels, but especially into public health, epidemiology, nursing and community care, and particularly in the community and primary care settings. The Green Party will prioritise research and appropriate funding into the environmental causes of cancer.
HE325 Where there is compelling evidence that incidence of an illness in society has a strong environmental factor, that illness shall be designated a notifiable disease. Cancer, asthma and ME/CFS shall be among those included on this list. This information shall form the basis of statistical research into the effects of polluting our air, water and food supply. As many synthetic chemicals bio-accumulate and are hazardous to health, a long-term strategy will be developed for stopping their production and use, beginning with the most dangerous, the most unnecessary and the most easily replaceable. This includes many fat-soluble chemicals, which become highly concentrated in breast milk, and are therefore a serious health risk to infants. Where this conflicts with existing "Free Trade" treaties, we would press for change to the treaties or withdraw from them.
Assessment and Regulation of Medicines
H326 The safety and regulation of medicines will be controled by a single agency. This agency will ensure that medicines meet minimum safety standards, provide clear labelling of both ingredients and side-effects. The agency will cover existing synthetic medicines as well as those considered as natural or alternative medicines.
HE327 We shall improve the protection provided under the law to users of medicines. Prescribed and over-the-counter medicines will be monitored more rigorously with regard to both efficacy and toxicity. Appropriate methods of assessment will be developed for both synthetic pharmaceuticals and natural medicines, involving practitioners expert in their respective uses. Assessment will not be dependent on commercial interest in production. (see AR407) All information gathered during the process of assessment and licensing shall be publicly available.
H328 The Green Party will further introduce procedures for assessing existing research which has led to licensing of drugs where there is a case for stating there has been a conflict of interest affecting such original research which in turn led to licensing of drugs.
H329 The Green Party recognises the huge profits made by the drug companies out of the NHS. This is often through a form of cartel pricing, and we do not believe it is right that the National Health Service as a public health service should have to pay unfair prices. Therefore the medicines agency (HE326) will have the power to set the price of drugs provided to the NHS. This arm of the medicines agency will be composed of doctors, healthcare professionals, economists, and a legally trained chairperson, which will look at the cost of research and development in drugs and their manufacture, and receive evidence from chemists, the pharmaceutical companies, and other countries' health services. The pricing arm will then decide what is a fair price for a drug which is to be provided to the NHS by the manufacturer, and that will be the price which the NHS will pay for the drug.
H330 Novel compounds will not be introduced into general use unless they can be shown to have significant advantages over existing drugs. Limited list prescribing will be extended across the full range of pharmaceuticals. The direct advertising of prescription- only medicines to the medical profession will cease. Information to the medical profession will be the responsibility of medical schools and independent authorities with no vested interest in companies which manufacture or market pharmaceuticals.
Assessment of Treatments
H331 The assessment of the effectiveness of treatments in relation to the cost of their provision is fundamental to the provision of high quality, cost effective healthcare. The Green Party would ensure that an independent healthcare treatment agency provides assurance on the effectiveness of treatments and recommendations for new treatments to the NHS.
HE332 Whilst assessment of treatments must be evidence based, an holistic approach will generally be taken. This will take into account the range of factors in health and disease, wider benefits and health outcomes than addressing a single illness and a full assessment of side effects and risks to the patient and to society. Treatments that target the causes of ill-health will be favoured over treatments that simply target symptoms.
HE333 We shall identify health areas where existing treatments available under the NHS are either so expensive that they are unsustainable, where existing treatments have a poor record of restoring patients to health or where existing treatments pose a significant health risk in themselves. These shall become designated priority areas for assessing the comparative benefits of current health service practice and other treatments, currently available privately. This knowledge shall be used to draw safe, effective, treatments into NHS provision.
HE334 When donors of organs or blood are assessed for suitability, only characteristics that are scientifically proven to be relevant should be considered. This would mean that the current -lifetime ban on donations from gay or bisexual men would be removed.
Regulation of Practioners
HE335 To protect patients from poor practice, negilgence and fraudulent practice, all healthcare practitioners who have a direct responsibility for care or therapy delivered to patients should be registered with an appropriate professional body recognised by government. This will apply to practitioners providing therapies to NHS and private patients. These professional bodies will provide, as a minimum, assurance that:
HE336 Prescription, and other charges, are wrong in principle, unfair in practice, and generate little income for the Health Service. They will be abolished as soon as possible. The taxation system will require adjustment to compensate the Health Service for the revenue lost.
HE337 The fact that the number of abortions carried out in England and Wales continues to rise should be of concern to all. Given the health risks associated with any medical and surgical procedure and many people's moral discomfort with induced terminations, it is entirely understandable that many wish to see this number significantly reduced.
HE339 The Green Party will support a change in the law to remove the requirement for two doctors to approve a woman's decision to have an abortion, and will support a change in the law to allow the procedure to be carried out by appropriately trained nurses and midwives up to three months of pregnancy. It will support NHS provision of such nurses and midwives and will support a widening of the number of locations at which an abortion can be carried out. This should reduce delays in service provision and prevent access being obstructed by doctors with personal anti-abortion views.
The Green Party will not support any change to the current laws on abortions which would aim to make it more difficult for women to obtain them. Such a change in the law would do nothing to address the underlying factors which lead to women seeking abortions. Instead, it is likely to drive them into going elsewhere for the operations - either overseas or to illegal practitioners in this country - which will increase both the distress and the health risks for those involved.
HE340 The Green Party recognises that the decision whether or not to continue with a pregnancy is never undertaken lightly. The Green Party believes that counselling should be offered to every woman considering an abortion. However, the ultimate decision about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy should always lie with the pregnant woman who has to deal with the consequences of that decision.
End of Life Care
H341 Existing UK expertise about palliative care should be a bedrock and springboard for further development and expansion of palliative care. All services - hospital, community, clinic and care homes - should promote the knowledge and understanding of the patient process of dying. Universal palliative care raining is required for all clinical, care and ancillary staff, appropriate to each staff member's role.
H342 Palliative care is holistic; high quality palliative care aims to support the physical, psychological, social and any spiritual dimensions of the patient’s process of dying. Palliative care promotes dignity and respect. Palliative care should be based on the best clinical and ethical practice including conventional and complementary therapies. To ensure important aspects of palliative care do not get lost for any reason, this policy stresses that high quality palliative care aims to support any spiritual, religious or philosophical dimensions of the patient process of dying.
H343 To ensure high quality palliative care, there needs to be awareness of bias and disadvantage that might arise associated with ethnic origin, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious or non religious belief, age, body size, mental health diagnoses and other factors. Services should be planned and delivered in ways that avoid discrimination.
H344 It is essential to promote rational, evidence based and ethical palliative care practice. Where a medically led multidisciplinary palliative care team is required, a team should be accessible whether by consultation in person or by communication media such as telephone or internet. All services should strive to ensure appropriate speed and coordination of palliative care services.
H345 It is important to review, and reevaluate, the availability of hospice and other palliative care to those with all diagnoses and conditions. Palliative care policy promotes provision of palliative care to all those with end of life conditions and diseases such as stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, end stage heart disease, end stage lung conditions, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other terminal conditions and diseases. Palliative care should be available for deaths wherever they occur - in own home, care homes, hospital, hospices and wherever death occurs in the UK.
H346 Sufficient emotional support should be available to those who surround people who are dying. This would include staff working in palliative care, friends, relatives and formal and informal carers.
HE347 The Green Party recognises that medical decisions taken towards the end of a person's life should never be undertaken lightly. We believe that when the quality of life is poor (e.g. due to severe dementia) life prolonging treatments such as influenza vaccines and antibiotics should not be given routinely without consideration of the whole situation including the wishes of the patient and relatives.
HE348 Many medical interventions provided at the end of a person's life will both relieve suffering and hasten death. We recognise that this can cause concern amongst health professionals and the public and will introduce clear guidance to protect all parties.
We will introduce legislation based on this framework to ensure the protection of all parties.
HE350 Our competitive and highly stressed society results in increased numbers of mentally distressed people. Present methods of approaching this problem are inadequate, and sometimes conventional medical intervention escalates people's problems.
The particular vulnerability of mental health sufferers in society during illness and afterwards means that their problems become reinforced through lack of access to employment, adequate housing and social isolation.
The Green Party will legislate to protect those suffering mental distress from discrimination wherever it may occur. It will further legislate to prevent the "demonisation" of clients of the mental health services in particular by the media. It will legislate to provide those suffering mental distress with the opportunity to draw up individual "advance directives" thereby securing their treatment of preference in a crisis.
It will further legislate for the legal rights of individuals, once they have received a diagnosis, to be given full written details of that diagnosis appropriate to their ability to understand, together with information about relevant support/self help groups. Similar key written information being provided to the carer(s) of that person about their particular condition.
The Green Party will also legislate to have fast track reassessment by independent specialists of an individual's long term drug intervention particularly for those on multiple drug treatments over one year, should they/their carer(s) so wish.
People using mental health services and their carers should have the right to information at the point of diagnosis relating to complementary/alternative treatments and should be able to access these via the NHS as appropriate.
We will procure the systematic review of evidence to establish the relative usefulness of various psychological therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Imaging and relaxation with a view to the funding of techniques which are shown to be effective.
We will encourage a systematic and inclusive review of environmental components of mental illness, including nutrition, environmental agents, and food intolerance.
We will encourage research into positive mental health ("happiness"), with particular reference to economic, social and environmental conditions that foster such happiness.
HE355 The Green Party is opposed to the artificial mass fluoridation of drinking water which is being promoted by the Government. There is conflicting evidence on the benefits to dental health of this practice and major concerns on the cumulative negative wider health effects of total ingestion levels of fluoride. There are further concerns on the links with the chemical industry that supplies artificial fluoride and the compulsory nature of its addition to drinking water that denies consumers choice.
HE356 The Green Party believes it is wrong in principle that private health care companies and agencies should be able to employ or use staff who have been expensively trained by the NHS without contributing something to the cost of that training. Therefore companies, including pharmaceutical companies, employing or using NHS-trained healthcare professionals outside the NHS will have to pay an additional training tax. This will take the form of a levy for each person-hour during which they employ or use NHS-trained staff outside the NHS. The proceeds from this levy will go directly into the NHS Tax which the Green Party is going to create.
HE357 To promote decentralisation and accountability, Primary Care Trusts will be supervised by, and accountable to, elected Local Government. Co-operation between Primary Health Trusts to improve services will be encouraged. The role of Patients' Forums as users' advocates will be developed to provide greater assistance to individuals in difficulties or disputes with the health services. Legislation will be introduced to allow individuals access to their medical records.
HE358 Health spending in the UK needs to reflect the needs of the country and should be maintained at around the average in the European Union. The party will continue to support the principle that the NHS is a national service, free at the point of entry and fully funded by taxation.
HE359 We recognize that some people will want to pay for treatments that are not deemed sufficiently cost-effective to be provided by the NHS. We will ensure that NHS patients are not prevented from accessing these, or denied any NHS treatment, as a consequence of paying for such non-NHS treatments. However, we will also ensure that the NHS does not subsidise these either directly or indirectly.
HE361 Health Service spending will be reviewed regularly, with a view to increasing the resources invested in health promotion, illness prevention, community care and community development, relative to spending on curative interventions.
Internal Market / NHS Trusts
HE362 The creation of NHS Trusts erased the democratic accountability of local NHS services. The rights of those who work in the NHS, especially to participate in its development and improvement, were widely undermined. Market forces cannot allocate healthcare fairly, nor even efficiently. The internal market has wasted badly needed resources on administration, and reduced the efficiency and morale of the whole system. The internal market opens the long term possibility of further privatisation of the NHS. The internal market should be wound up and replaced with clear financial and service accountability of decentralised service units to regional assemblies within a single corporate whole.
HE363 For too long the workers in the NHS have been underpaid, undervalued and ignored. They remain some of the most overworked in our society despite the importance of their day-to-day decisions and actions. The multitude of local staff contracts and conditions will be simplified within a clear regional structure. Privatisation of ancillary services will cease and be reversed, so that all NHS workers of a particular grade can expect the same terms within the same region. Collective bargaining arrangements will be strengthened and honoured. A particularly urgent commitment will be to reduce all staff working hours to a maximum in line with the Working Time Directive.
HE364 The Green Party deplores the poaching of healthcare professionals from other less privileged countries. Conditions and wages of nurses, and also doctors, need to rise to encourage more British people to train as nurses and doctors.
Demand and Supply Management
HE365 Demand management will be maximised through prevention of illness and appropriate care of the chronically ill. Demand for hospital services will be managed through the best use of community services and through caring for patients as close to home as is safely possible.
HE366 Education of patients will be used to limit demand on healthcare services. National campaigns will encourage people not to automatically seek healthcare with self-limiting conditions like common cold, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea and vomiting, and flu-like illness. Information will be available to help people self-manage these conditions, and to recognise when they should seek help. There will be a strong message to discourage the practice of going to work, or to any other social situation, when a person is suffering from a contagious illness such as flu-like illness.
HE367 Because of the escalating cost of healthcare there will always be insufficient funds to meet expectations of patients. This necessitates rationing. Where necessary this should be open and democratically accountable, rather than arbitrary and unfair as it is now.
HE368 The Green Party is opposed to private health provision in principle, Greens are opposed to a transfer of resources away from the public health system which is available to all. While private health insurance still exists, it should be a taxable employment benefit where offered.
Opposition to 'third way' health reform
HE370 General Practices are predominantly run as small businesses and therefore are insufficiently accountable to local people and government. The Green Party will introduce a new model of General Practice to be adopted when new practices open. This new model will be based on practices being patient-owned co-operatives. Patients will be able to have a strong voice in their primary care provision and staff in the practices will be directly accountable to their patients. Primary care co-ops will be open to all potential patients to join and we will ensure that there are appropriate safeguards around membership, governance and provision.
Health chapter updates: