Developing Labour Health Policy

10am – 3pm Saturday 9th December 2006

Golden Lion Hotel, Lower Briggate Leeds LS1 4AE

The Labour Party National Policy Forum consultation document on health has been released, and this will be the basis for our discussions. Submissions are to be sent in by March 2007 to pip3.health@new.labour.org.uk. Anyone can send their comments, but we hope that a clear well argued submission from us will carry some weight.

Notes of meeting:

Apologies about these notes – I wasn’t feeling very well during the day and since then I have felt worse.

Declining numbers of midwives – now about 50% of what was previously available. Repeated promises of more choices for pregnant women have not yet resulted in very much real choice, and more births are medically led than midwife led.

Problems of service accessibility in rural areas as a result of increasing concentration of specialisms.

Need for a National Health Service with local democratic control.

Need for varied provisions in mental health.

Contribution of good housing to reducing demands on the caring budget, especially intermediate care. Direct payments work well for some healthy younger disabled people, but are not really possible for some older people with impaired mental capacity.

Community Services need to be in place – and visible – before hospital services close. Some commercial homecare services are of poor quality. Need a guarantee of safety and competence.

Patient choice requires much better information than is presently available.

Mental health services have concentrated on demand management as far as Severe Mental Illness goes. Adult Education services used to contribute quite a lot of what was effectively day care for mental illness and learning disability clients, but the new regime makes this impossible.

It is hard to see how payment by results will work in mental health where there are few measurable results.

Importance of the public health role of professionals.

Social changes over time have reduced the amount of family support people get in a crisis, such as young mothers.

How are voluntary organisations accountable?

What about people who are vulnerable and cannot exercise accountability?

The NHS has had too much rapid change.

Tariffs for health education are set too low (I didn’t really follow this part). In service training money has been raided. Requirement for Continuous Professional Development needs to be externally monitored and enforced in order to prevent this from happening. Induction/preceptorship also needs to be monitored and enforced, not by the employer. We need these measures to ensure the workforce is properly trained and safe.

If there are to be private providers (and we had long and inconclusive discussions about that) then there should be a level playing field between public and private providers.

What do you think?

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