Farage outlines Ukip health policy

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Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Nigel Farage will tomorrow set out Ukip’s plans to invest an additional £3 billion in front-line NHS services in the party’s first big policy launch of the general election campaign.

Among the measures to be unveiled is a commitment to invest £650 million in dementia research over the lifetime of the parliament – more than double the amount pledged by David Cameron at the weekend.

Under the party’s plans, the Care Quality Commission watchdog would be abolished and responsibility for hospital inspections passed to local health boards which would be encouraged to take evidence from whistle-blowers and patients with grievances.

Hospital managers would have to be licensed in the same way as doctors and nurses in a move which the party says is designed to “negate the drift” of disgraced hospital managers who are fired from one job only to take up another elsewhere in the NHS.

Tuition fees for medical students would be scrapped on what the party says would be a means-tested basis, and less highly qualified state enrolled nurses (SENs) reintroduced in a drive to encourage more “home-grown medical talent”.

The party will also say that merging health and social care would be a priority, with funding for social care for the elderly raised to £1 billion a year.

In another populist move, Ukip will promise to abolish hospital car parking charges – a move that would cost £200 million a year which it would cover by tackling “health tourism” which, it estimates, costs up to £2 billion.

The move is part of a strategy by Ukip – which is largely associated with campaigning to leave the European Union and control immigration – to show that it has a fully worked-out programme for government.

In doing so, however, it will inevitably open itself up to greater scrutiny by the media and by its political rivals.

Mr Farage has suggested in the past that the health service would have to move to an insurance-based system, but over the weekend the party’s health spokesman Louise Bours – who will also be at the launch – insisted that is not on the agenda.

“We had a discussion within the party, an internal debate, because obviously we are very democratic, we like to listen to what the party members want, what the public want, and through that we have made our policy and (there is) absolutely not a whiff of privatisation,” she told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme.

Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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