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Labour plans to trial neighbourhood health centres in manifesto

Labour plans to trial neighbourhood health centres in manifesto
By Victoria Vaughan
13 June 2024

Labour has pledged to shift resources into primary care and trial neighbourhood health centres to bring existing services ‘under one roof’ in its manifesto launched today (June 13).

Unveiled ahead of the general election on 4 July, it states that ‘The National Health Service needs to move to a Neighbourhood Health Service, with more care delivered in local communities to spot problems earlier. To achieve this, we must over time shift resources to primary care and community services’.

The neighbourhood health centres would bring GPs, district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, palliative care, and mental health specialists together to provide care closer to home.

The party also pledged to ‘bring back the family doctor by incentivising GPs to see the same patient, so ongoing or complex conditions are dealt with effectively’.

It also plans to create a community pharmacist prescribing service, granting more pharmacists independent prescribing rights where clinically appropriate and allow other professionals, such as opticians, to make direct referrals to specialist services for tests, as well as expanding self-referral routes where appropriate.

On dentistry Labour plans to provide 700,000 more urgent dental appointments, recruit new dentists and reform the dental contract, with a shift to focusing on prevention and the retention of NHS dentists. They also plan to introduce a supervised tooth-brushing scheme for 3- to 5-year-olds, targeting the areas of highest need.

The party has already announced a key manifesto health plan to provide an extra two million NHS operations, scans, and appointments a year – 40,000 more appointments a week – funded by closing non-dom tax loopholes and reducing tax avoidance. Labour also pledged it would not raise rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT.

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said:One part of Labour’s health and care plan is an aspiration to move more care out of hospital and closer to communities. Refocussing the NHS towards primary and community care would lead to a more efficient and sustainable health care system, but this has been the stated policy aim of successive governments over several decades and has not been realised because ministers have not put their money where their mouth is. If Labour really want to come good on this promise and avoid repeating history, it must be more than warm words; they will need to take some tough decisions on where funding, staff and political energy are directed.’

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘While the ambitions to provide 40,000 appointments a week and return to meeting performance standards are laudable, the NHS still has around 100,000 vacancies with staff already often working beyond their set hours. Added to that, crumbling estates are holding back NHS productivity. Promises to cut waiting lists and hit performance targets cannot be made on the back of asking hardworking staff to do more and without more capital investment. So we welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to invest in new equipment and improve the NHS estate.

‘Labour’s plans to improve collaboration are very welcome and we hope these will build on the work already carried out by integrated care systems (ICS). We have stressed that Labour must not bypass ICSs to tackle elective care waits because this could undermine system working.’

Labour manifesto health plans:

  • A ‘Fit For the Future’ fund to double the number of CT and MRI scanners
  • A commitment to deliver the New Hospitals Programme
  • A plan to transform the NHS app, which would include performance information on local services and medical guidelines for treatments
  • Plans to implement the recommendations of the Cass Review to ensure that young people presenting to the NHS with gender dysphoria receive appropriate care
  • A reform programme to create a National Care Service, with a principle of ‘home first’ that supports people to live independently for as long as possible
  • Introduce Young Futures hubs to provide open access mental health services for children and young people in every community
  • Recruit an additional 8,500 new staff to treat children and adults in its first term
  • Modernise mental health legislation to give patients greater choice, autonomy, enhanced rights and support
  • Ban advertising of junk food to children along with the sale of high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s to help tackle obesity
  •  Ensure the next generation can never legally buy cigarettes and ensure all hospitals integrate ‘opt-out’ smoking cessation interventions into routine care
  • Ban vapes from being branded and advertised to appeal to children 
  • Build on the Online Safety Act, bringing forward provisions as quickly and explore further measures to keep everyone safe online, particularly when using social media
  • Give coroners more powers to access information held by technology companies after a child’s death
  • Reducing gambling-related harm by reforming regulation and strengthening protections
  • Tackle the social determinants of health by halving the gap in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest regions in England
  • Prioritise women’s health
  • Commission a new HIV action plan in England, in pursuit of ending HIV cases by 2030

Source: Labour

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