A reflection on the relationship between the health sector and politics in 2015.

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We all know that the health sector and politics don’t always get on. Their relationship has been turbulent throughout 2015. Here are some of my key moments in their love/hate relationship this year.

Mental health waiting times.

Guidance for the new mental health waiting times was brought out following the Department of Health announcing the measures back in October 2014.

From April 2016, 75 per cent of patients with depression or anxiety disorders needing access to psychological therapies are to be treated within six weeks of referral, and 95 per cent in 18 weeks.

It was great to see the Department of Health (part of the political world) acknowledging mental health. It’s a cause close to my heart due to my personal experience and the experiences of my family members and friends.

The Care Act.

The Care Act came into force this year, alongside the Children and Families Act and it was a blessing. (I don’t use that word lightly, I assure you!). It has brought to fruition the importance of carers and their rights and wellbeing. And I’m glad.

This shows that politics and the the health sector that supports carers on a daily basis can actually agree that carers health and wellbeing is important. After all, we do save the Government a lot of money every year. £87 billion a year to be exact.

A great support for the health sector saw the first half of the year off to a brilliant start for the relationship.

The General Election pledges towards mental health. 

May was filled with “General Election Fever” not to mention fandoms. (More on those in my general 2015 political reflection!). Pledges were flying left, right and of course, centre. (If there is such a line on the spectrum anymore).

Every political party running in England pledged to support mental health.

A step in the right direction but I’m yet to see the pledges come to light.

NHS Funding

There have also been pledges to increase funding for the NHS.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives said: “We are able to commit to increasing NHS spending in England in real terms by a minimum of £8bn over the next five years.”

The government’s pledge means that the budget for the NHS in 2020-21 will be at least £8bn higher than it is in 2015, after accounting for inflation.

An NHS funding plan was put in place in November this year.

So, in my opinion NHS should see the funding it deserves. Let’s see what 2016 holds.

NHS 7 Day Services

There’s been a lot of debate and debacle about the NHS 7 Day services. The phrase “7 day services” has been misinterpreted. The NHS does run 24/7. It does not shut on a weekend like many other organisations.

Researchers who had completed a study of the NHS published a a fresh report on death rates using updated figures – and again found the risk of death was higher.

The British Medical Association, the professional body for doctors hit back whilst doctors and nurses took to social media using the hashtag #ImInWorkJeremy.

It probably wasn’t one of the best things to come after the general election hype.

The first Minister for Mental Health is created by Jeremy Corbyn. 

Mr Corbyn made this correct move back in September of this year. He appointed the first minister for mental health after he was elected as Labour leader.

He appointed Luciana Berger who will directly work on mental health issues and consider how they can best be addressed by the NHS and prioritised by a Labour government.

Hats off to her and him – we’ll see how this progresses in 2016. Maybe the Conservatives will create a cabinet counterpart?

NHS Bursaries

The NHS bursaries were under fire in the Spending Review/Autumn Statement. Mr Osborne is considering scrapping the bursaries meaning that student nurses will have to take out loans to pay their tuition fees, like many other university students.

There’s a lot to weigh up – it has already proved unpopular with student nurses and prospective students and it may worsen the existing shortage of nurses. However, it could potentially free up money for the government to spend elsewhere.

A debate is due to be held in Parliament on this issue in the new year. Let’s hope the right decision is made.

This was a relationship breakdown between the two sectors, we’ll have to see if it can be restored.

Junior doctors strike.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had offered a basic pay rise of 11% but the changes to working hours weren’t the best Christmas present on offer for junior doctors.

The contract proposal was deemed as #NotFairNotSafe on social media.

28,316 took part in the vote on full strike action.

It was another blow to the relationship and left the health sector with a lot to swallow moving into the new year.

Let’s hope that the relationship can be restored to full health in 2016, with more positive moments between the pair.

Do you think the health sector and politics have “gotten on” this year? Let me know below or on my social media. 


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