Major revision March 2015
Latest amendment October 2015
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. The Green Party supports the full implementation of the World Health Organization's Health2020 approach to health and we subscribe to the EU's 'Health in All Policies' approach, encouraging them to be adopted at all levels of government.
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 at least 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.
HE 208 The health service should be managed as a “learning organisation” in which there is a clear responsibility for continual improvement and in which all staff are encouraged to comment on the systems in which they work and share learning in an open and fearless way.
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.
HE400 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)
HE401 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.
The Green Party proposes that the right to legal aid for personal injury cases shall be maintained, in the interest of public health and safety, and in accordance with the "Equality of Arms" clause in the European Convention on Human Rights.
HE501 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.
HE502 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.
HE503 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.
HE504 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.
HE505 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.
HE506 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.
HE507 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.
HE508 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.
HE509 The Green Party will work to ensure that:
HE510 The Green Party will institute a complete review of the regulations regarding the promotion of artificial feeding products and the accompanying equipment to make it possible for families to make decisions about infant feeding without commercial pressure. We will support in full the implementation of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the subsequent WHA resolutions. Powers would be allocated to the appropriate bodies to enforce the regulations, with education as needed for Food Standards Agency and Local Authority staff.
HE511 The Green Party will regulate to ensure that all health care settings (hospital and community) achieve Baby Friendly status, as established by UNICEF
HE512 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.
HE513 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)
HE514 The Green Party recognises that currently-available methods of contraception cannot prevent all unintended pregnancies, that not all intercourse is consensual and that pregnant people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their life situations and choices. The Green Party views the safeguarding of individual freedom and moral autonomy in making reproductive choices as fundamental for a progressive society.
HE515 The Green Party acknowledges that unintended pregnancies can be limited, but not eradicated, through compulsory comprehensive sex education, confidential and accessible contraceptive services and greater gender equality. The Green Party would implement medically-accurate abortion, pregnancy and childbirth education for all genders into its education policy. Nobody should leave school unaware of the medical realities of reproduction.
HE516 The Green Party believes that contraception and abortion are an essential part of healthcare and should be accessible, effective, safe and confidential for all through a publicly funded NHS. In the case of devolved powers, such as Northern Ireland, the Green Party supports advocacy for changes to reproductive health restrictions, and in the meantime calls for the transportation, accommodation and medical fees of abortion patients to be covered by the NHS.
HE518 The Green Party would ensure that all medical staff involved in publicly-funded counselling and healthcare involving a person’s reproductive health are committed to providing unbiased, patient-led, and medically accurate advice, regardless of their personal moral convictions. The Green Party would allow private and charitable providers of abortion counselling to provide private ‘anti-choice’ advice, though this should be clearly stated in all advertising to prevent the misleading of persons at risk of exploitation. The Green Party would not allow these providers to be advertised on any publicly-funded health information or signposted from any state-funded institution eg prisons, schools.
HE519 The Green Party is aware that issues such as sex selection, time limits and disability screening have been raised in attempt to restrict the rights of pregnant persons. The Green Party acknowledges that these can be controversial, but ultimately believes that no socio-economic, cultural or other social group should be stigmatised and denied healthcare. The ultimate decision about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is never taken lightly and should always lie with the pregnant person.
HE520 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.
HE521 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.
HE522 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.
HE523 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.
HE524 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.
HE525 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.
HE526 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.
HE527 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
HE529 The Green Party supports a move towards a system of ‘soft’ presumed consent (opt-out) for organ donation. In the United Kingdom, current legislation is set out in the Human Tissue Act 2004, covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006. Presently, both Acts state that if a person has, while alive and competent, given consent for some or all of their organs or tissue to be donated following their death, then that consent is sufficient for the donation to go ahead. Once consent is established, relatives or other relevant people should be advised of the fact and encouraged to respect the deceased’s wishes. However, they reserve the right to refuse.
The Green Party recognises the distress of individuals with organ failure and that the United Kingdom remains some way behind the rest of Europe in deceased donation rates. The current system loses potential donors. Despite a long concerted effort by NHS Blood and Transplant to promote ‘opt in’ and registration, less than one third of people are on the organ donor register. The Green Party would implement a system of presumed consent (soft) where all individuals are registered as organ donors unless the individual has expressed a wish not to be and removed themselves from the register. It will be mandatory for health staff to discuss with family members in all cases. The ‘soft’ option will reserve the right of family members or legal guardian(s) to refuse.
The Green Party recognises the rights of the individual and particularly those with disability or capacity issues and those who may have a religious or cultural objection. A process of highlighting awareness of the change, which will be independent, will be put in place on policy implementation to ensure that all individuals have access to removing themselves from the register if they so wish and at any time, with no explanation necessary or required. This right will be inferred on the legal guardian(s) of individuals with capacity issues.
HE530 The Green Party recognises that a wide range of factors contribute to mental health distress and difficulties. These include economic, social, psychological and biological factors. The Green Party recognises that evidence clearly shows that many of our economic and social policies would contribute to improved well-being for all, such as increased community participation, improved social justice and secure employment.
For individuals suffering from mental health distress, a range of evidence-based therapies and treatments will be readily available, based on the NICE guidelines. The Green Party would also ensure increased funding was made available for further research into the development of evidence- based therapies for provision through the NHS. Provision of talking therapies should be made more readily available, within 28 days either in addition to or as an alternative to medication.
The Green Party also recognises that there are health inequalities in terms of the groups of people who access talking therapies and other forms of NHS treatment. The Green Party would encourage more innovation within NHS services for reaching excluded and marginalised groups
The Green Party would encourage all Local Authorities to appoint a Mental Health Champion, to advocate on behalf of people with mental health issues with regard to housing provision, employment and education access and other local services. Their role will be also to represent the interests of those with mental health issues whenever decisions are made on a local level.
The Green Party recognises that there is much stigma surrounding mental health difficulties, and this adversely affects those experiencing these issues. Working alongside charities and organisations that work to challenge stigma, we would encourage several measures, including mental health awareness training within the public sector, workplace mentorship frameworks in order to support employees experiencing mental health difficulties, and would support people with lived experience of mental health difficulties sharing their experiences, encouraging a more open dialogue on the issue in wider society.
The Green Party recognises that there is a real value in the service user, wherever possible, having a degree of control over their treatment options, for example through personal budgets. This system needs to be improved through more information being made available about personal budgets to service users, carers, advocates and staff. Whilst personal budgets can play an effective role in empowering service users, they should not replace the core funding of key services, such as day centres and inpatient care.
Accordingly, the Green Party would provide funding for research into the optimal ways for mental health services to be delivered.
The Green Party would also continue to encourage the co-production agenda within the NHS, in which opportunities are utilised for the employment or participation of service users and other experts by experience in creating, delivering and monitoring preventative and treatment services.
The Green Party recognises that many people working with those with mental health difficulties, such as mental health nurses, social workers and support staff, work long hours, in difficult conditions, on relatively low pay and often with insecure job tenure. We would seek to improve the conditions and pay as well as the status of these important roles. This would aid in the retention of staff and, as a result, in providing continuity of care.
The Green Party would legislate so that psychotherapists would be brought under the governance of the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC). We would also oversee the setting up of an independent body that would investigate any deaths which occur under mental health detention.
The Green Party recognises that mental and physical health problems often go together.
For example, 40% of the tobacco smoked in the UK is smoked by those with mental health problems. Holistic care and ‘joined up’ services are vital for better outcomes. We would increase the focus on partnership working and integrated care pathways. This would also aid early interventions when problems arise, which is also essential in improving outcomes.
The Green Party recognises that health services need to be sensitive to the needs of individuals on the basis of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and cultural and socioeconomic background. We would encourage mental health practitioners to take leadership on these issues. For instance, reviewing the effectiveness of how services are structured, such as the transition age of 18 and how services are accessed.
Early Years Intervention has a vital role in securing good mental wellbeing throughout life. Parent and infant psychological services, along with peer support networks, should be available throughout the country to aid better and more enjoyable parenting. Schools should provide a supportive environment where mental health issues are discussed, stigma and discrimination is challenged and emotional and social education is central. We would stress the importance of a curriculum that includes ways of preventing emotional distress, such as teaching about healthy relationships.
[See also ED042].
Schools would also be encouraged to employ suitably trained counsellors, to whom children could talk in confidence. Overall, the Green Party aim will be for health and educational services to be more integrated both at a local and national government level.
LGBTIQ people are more likely to have contact with the mental health system and are at much higher risk of mental health issues, self-harm and suicidal ideation than heterosexual people. They are also more likely to come up against negative reactions from mental health staff. The Green Party would therefore ensure that guidance for good practice is included in staff training. We would also ensure that LGBTIQ community specific health programs are funded and able to identify and support at risk individuals.
BME individuals are another identified group that is also more likely to have contact with mental health services. Certain communities are more at risk of developing certain mental health conditions, like psychosis. The Green Party would fund initiatives to reduce barriers into receiving care, by instituting community specific outreach programs, focused upon raising awareness and reducing stigma of mental health problems. Equally we would more clearly make the link that deprivation and exclusion of certain communities is linked to prevalence of mental health problems, and addressing those issues is key to addressing mental health issues.
The Green Party recognises also that refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable migrants can be just as marginalised within mental health services as within other services in the UK. These groups are under-represented in terms of receiving mental health support, whilst at the same time Black males are over-represented in the UK's inpatient wards. The Green Party recognises the rights of all people using mental health services for whom English is not the first language to interpreters where needed, preferably carefully chosen (to be sure there is no tribal/cultural clashing) and face-to-face rather than by telephone.
The Green Party recognises that talking therapies are particular to western models of thinking, and will encourage and support the training of counsellors in mother tongue languages. The Green Party will work to ensure that marginalised groups are able to access services through allocating funding to specialist services where it is clear that there are groups who are under-represented in accessing services.
The Green Party would recognise the crucial, unpaid and difficult work done by those who are carers for people with mental health difficulties. We would improve the benefits system for carers as well as put systems in place to ensure they are supported and advised, as well as ensuring they get adequate respite from their caring responsibilities.
The Green Party recognises the high levels of mental health need within the population that come into contact with the Criminal Justice System. For example, one in three young offenders have an unmet mental health need at the time of offence. Young people who become involved in gangs are at further risk of suffering mental health distress.
Both social and health inequalities are correlated with contact with the Criminal Justice System. This further demonstrates the need for our social justice and early intervention policies. In addition, the current structure and delivery of NHS mental health services are limited in their ability to engage and reach this group.
The Green Party would support the use of innovative programmes and services to improve the health outcomes of people involved in (or at risk of) the Criminal Justice System and work to improve national access to such evidence-based programmes. We would also emphasise the importance of training staff working within the Criminal Justice System, such as the police, civil servants, judges or probation, on mental health issues and the underlying causes of these difficulties. We would ensure that health, policing and community safety are working together at a local and national level to meet the social, occupational and emotional needs of this group as a means of reducing crime and distress.
The Green Party would commit to ensuring everyone has safe and speedy access to quality crisis care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whatever the circumstances in which they need help, regardless of where they turn to first. [See also CJ345 and CJ381].
HE531 The Green Party recognises the importance of child and adolescent mental health and will ensure that services to support this are properly funded and accessible close to the people who need them. We will ensure that looked after and adopted children are properly supported by child and adolescent mental health servies when needed.
HE532 The Green Party recognises that suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK. We would ensure that local authorities took preventative action in terms of well-known suicide spots. For example, installing barriers and anti-suicide nets on bridges where suicides have taken place. Research shows that when such action is taken, suicides from other surrounding high structures do not increase. In addition, we would support organisations and services aimed at reaching out to young men.
The Green Party recognises that mental health services in the UK are overstretched, that people are not being assessed quickly enough and many people needing treatment are not getting access to services at all. In addition, mental health inpatient services are being reduced by 1000 beds a year. We recognise that some people need inpatient care and we would work to reverse the decline in bed numbers. We would also stress the need to review treatment length, recognising that some patients require longer treatment programmes than others, and that fixed-term treatments are not always appropriate. In addition, we could ensure that people are aided in their re-integration into the community after a stay in inpatient care, such as through protecting funding for supported living environments.
The Green Party recognises that the current isolation that many people face contributes greatly to mental health problems. We would tackle this by protecting facilities such as community centres, which aid social cohesion, and could be used to provide specific resources for those faced with mental health difficulties.
The Green Party recognises the important role that Primary Care has in mental health services. We would encourage General Practitioners’ Practices to employ a mental health specialist such a mental health nurse. They would be there to provide help and support not only to the person experiencing the mental health difficulties but also to the carers and families of those affected. There would also be an emphasis on increasing the mental health training of General Practitioners who currently act as gatekeepers to many services.
HE536 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.
HE600 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.
HE601 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.
HE602 We recognise 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.
HE604 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.
HE605 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.
HE606 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.
HE700 To promote decentralisation and accountability, Clinical Commissioning Groups will be supervised by, and accountable to, elected Local Government. Co-operation between CCGs 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.
HE701 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.
HE702 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.
The Green Party will set in place methods whereby statistics necessary for research into assessment of health risks (particularly in areas where heavy, chemical and nuclear industries are located), are available with the maximum accessibility for all academic, commercial or individual use. All existing health statistics to also be made freely available.
The Green Party will introduce procedures for dealing with medical/scientific personnel whose positions in the research and/or licensing system give rise to conflicts of interest.
Steps shall be taken to ensure that medical research should meet the identified medical needs of society, and to make medical research institutions democratically accountable. We shall seek to end the situation whereby commercial investment determines research programmes in universities and public institutions. Attention shall be given to basic health research areas which have been neglected in the past.
Rigorous assessment, monitoring and audit of new technologies will be undertaken prior to their general application.
Policy on animal experiments is contained in the Animal Rights section. While animal experiments continue to be used in medical research, the Green Party will press for a thorough evaluation of animal tests used to predict safety and effectiveness of medicines and treatments, based on a comparison of existing research and data using animal tests with equivalent human biology-based tests, to determine the best means to predict the safety and effectiveness of medicines and treatments for patients
The Green Party acknowledges the existing and potential future benefits to humans and other animals from stem cell technologies, using both adult and embryonic cellular material. These benefits include direct medical advances, improved non-animal testing methods for new medical treatments, and the advancement of knowledge. However, we also emphasize the importance of continuing ethical regulation, adequate government funding, and transparency of research in the areas of embryonic and adult stem cell technologies, to protect donors and the public health.
HE703 The safety and regulation of medicines will be controlled 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.
HE704 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.
HE705 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.
HE706 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 (HE703) 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.
HE707 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.
HE708 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.
The effectiveness of treatments will be assessed by the agency using the best clinical evidence available. The agency will use independent panels of experts to assess treatments. The agency will assess the effectiveness of treatments across the entire health care spectrum, from synthetic pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures to public health interventions and complementary therapies.
We recognise that the assessment of treatments is a lengthy and ongoing process that should be driven by clinical need rather than either political or commercial influence.
The agency will produce recommendations that compare effectiveness against cost allowing the NHS to decide which treatments are required to meet the needs of the service within its budget.
HE709 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.
HE710 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.
HE711 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.
HE712 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.
HE713 Sanitary Products will no longer be classed as a ‘luxury’ product, and VAT will no longer be added to their retail price. In addition, homeless women and other women in extreme financial need will be provided with Sanitary Products at no charge.
HE800 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.
HE801 We will ensure that sufficient training places for all types of clinician are available to support future health care needs and that people are able to access this training. We will keep training places and the delivery of training under continuous review to ensure that it meets changing needs.
HE802 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.
The NHS will not be allowed proactively to recruit non-British healthcare staff overseas by any means, including overseas advertising or direct approaches.
The Green Party will actively seek ways of ensuring that healthcare skills are shared between countries including by offering exchange opportunities to students and qualified staff.
HE804 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:
The Green Party will actively seek ways of ensuring that healthcare skills are shared between countries including by offering exchange opportunities to students and qualified staff.
HE901 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.
HE903 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.
HE904 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.
HE905 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. We will require adequate night and weekend cover from consultants and diagnostic facilities in all hospitals dealing with emergency admissions.
HE906 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.
Foundation Hospitals are in fundamental opposition to the Green Party policy of the public health service remaining fully funded by public taxation (see HE104), given that they are required to produce a profit and are able to seek commercial partnerships. This is likely to result in charging for ancillary services (disadvantaging the worse off), the reduction of medical education and training, the non-treatment of specialist or rare illnesses and early discharges. Foundation Hospitals risk undermining the principles of the NHS, creating a two- or multi-tier system of uneven provision. This also threatens de facto privatisation because the amount of commercial borrowing and diversification away from key NHS functions will be governed only by the interpretations of the regulator and not by clear rules.
We would abolish Foundation status, fully reintegrating any such hospitals into the NHS system.
HE907 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.
HE908 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."
HE909 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.
HE910 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 co-owned by patients and medical professionals in a multistakeholder co-operative model. This will enable professionals, patients and communities to be partners in provision of care. Sufficient safeguards and training of members would be put in place to ensure evidence-based and high quality decisions being made. Patients and staff will be able to have a strong voice in the primary care provision in the practices and they will be directly accountable to each other. 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.
HE1000 We are mindful that approximately one fifth of the NHS clinical budget is devoted to treating illness caused by unemployment, inequality, poor housing and pollution, and that Green reforms in these sectors of the economy will reduce the load on the health service.
The following additional policy statements can be found in the Green Party Record of Policy Statements (RoPS) on Health:
Right click here to download a PDF copy of this policy.
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