HEALTH

The NHS is our country's most precious asset. Over the last two years, because of the dedication of staff across the country, the NHS has maintained or improved quality across the board – reducing waiting times to record lows, reducing hospital infections to their lowest levels ever, increasing access to dentistry, delivering more doctors and fewer administrators, and giving thousands of patients the cancer drugs they need.

Though there is much still to do, it is clear that the NHS is achieving outcomes which are among the best in the world. We are determined to make sure this continues.

The bigger picture

Jeremy Hunt• We are increasing the budget available to the NHS every year.

• We are giving doctors and nurses the freedom to design services for their patients.

• We are giving patients more power over how and where they are treated.

• We are delivering lower waiting times, fewer hospital infections, more doctors, and the cancer drugs that patients need.

Increasing NHS spending in real terms every year

Action to date

• We have increased NHS spending in real terms since 2010-11 and will continue doing so.

• Last year, local NHS bodies received an increase of more than £2.5 billion.

Planned actions

• We are increasing investment in the NHS by £12.5 billion by 2015.

Cutting the cost of NHS administration

Action to date

• Since the General Election, we have cut the number of managers working in the NHS by more than 6,000. Every penny saved is being reinvested straight into frontline care.

Planned actions

• We will cut NHS bureaucracy by £4.5 billion over the course of this Parliament and reinvest every penny straight into frontline patient services.

Giving more power to patients

Action to date

• We have passed the Health and Social Care Act, which introduces greater protections for patients to ensure that they get the choices they are entitled to.

• We have allowed patients more opportunity to choose whichever provider they want, be it the NHS, a charity, or an independent provider, all at NHS prices.

• From April 2012, patients referred to see a specialist have the freedom to choose the consultant team best placed to meet their individual needs and deliver the best possible results for them.

Planned actions

• We will allow patients the choice to register with a GP practice of their choice for the first time.

• We will roll out personal health budgets allowing people to have more choice, flexibility and control over the health services and care they receive.

Ensuring patients are treated with dignity and respect

Action to date

• Treating patients in mixed-sex accommodation fails to protect their dignity at a vulnerable time – so we have taken tough action and all but eradicated this practice. Since December 2010, we have named and shamed hospitals that breach strict mixed-sex accommodation rules.

• We have fined hospitals £250 per patient affected per day. Despite a decade of Labour’s broken promises, we have reduced the incidences of mixed-sex accommodation from 11,802 in December 2010 to 160 in August 2012, a reduction of 98.6 per cent.

• We have created the Nursing and Care Quality Forum to help guarantee the best standards of nursing across the country.

Planned actions

• We will establish and maintain local HealthWatch organisations to act as patient champions across the country.

• We will press ahead with an ‘information revolution’ to improve transparency in NHS and guarantee quality of care. Part of this is ensuring that hospitals publish much more data about the quality of care they are providing.

Giving doctors and nurses the power to commission services for their patients

Action to date

• Our Health and Social Care Act, passed by Parliament this/last year, ensures that the design of local health services is led by local doctors and nurses, not managers and bureaucrats.

Planned actions

• We will hand over commissioning power to the 212 Clinical Commissioning Groups in April 2013.

Keeping waiting times low

Action to date

• We have tackled long-term waits, reducing the number of patients waiting longer than 1 year to start treatment by 84 per cent.

Planned actions

• We will continue to invest in the NHS to ensure waiting times remain stable.

Giving peace of mind about the cost of elderly care

Action to date

• We commissioned Andrew Dinot to report on how to protect people from high and unpredictable social care costs.

Planned actions

• From April 2015 if people cannot afford to pay for their care without selling their home they will have the right to defer payment during their lifetime.

• From April 2015 a national minimum eligibility will make access to care more consistent around the country. Assessment for carers will be simplified and for the first time there will be a duty on councils to meet carers' eligible needs for support.

• From April 2017 the Government will pay for care costs incurred by individuals over £75,000, so that those with the most serious needs can be certain that they won't face ever increasing costs.

• In April 2017, financial support for care costs will be available to those who hold assets worth £123,000 or less. People with the fewest assets will receive the most support. This will, for the first time, provide financial protection for those with modest wealth, while ensuring that the poorest continue to have all or the majority of their costs paid.

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