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UK’s smaller parties parade their health policies

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 27 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2304
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

    The three major parties will not win all the votes on 6 May; nor do they have a monopoly on health policy. The Greens, the UK Independence Party, the nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales, and the British National Party have all published their own ideas about health and the NHS. The further they are from power, the more radical the policy tends to be.

    The Scottish Nationalist Party, already in power in Scotland, where the NHS is highly devolved, defends its record. It plans a Patients Rights Bill that will reduce waiting times, including the same guarantee as Labour now promises in England and Wales: a maximum wait of 18 weeks from referral by a GP to treatment in hospital. The SNP says it has trebled spending on tackling hospital acquired infections, a priority for the party, and welcomes a recent reduction in numbers of infections.

    Its most radical promise is to abolish prescription charges in 2011. “We believe that prescription charges are a tax on ill health, and we are proud to stand for what is an essential principle of a health service free at the point of need,” its manifesto declares. “We will not let the London parties and their cuts undermine Scotland’s NHS.”

    The SNP claims that it is tackling obesity and, with “legislation to restrict cigarette displays and remove vending machines,” the effects …

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