Ukip vows £3bn more for ‘free’ NHS

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Nigel Farage has insisted that the NHS will be completely free at the point of access for British citizens as he outlined Ukip’s plan to invest an extra £3 billion a year in the health service.

The Ukip leader also set out plans to end hospital car parking charges, branding them a “tax on health”, at the party’s first big policy launch of the general election campaign.

Among the measures unveiled by Ukip is a commitment to invest £650 million by 2020 on dementia research – double the amount set out by David Cameron.

Overseas visitors would be required to have insurance to end “health tourism”, potentially stopping up to £2 billion being lost to the NHS every year.

Only once migrants have lived in the UK for five years will the requirement for health insurance expire, with £200 million of the savings from the plan used to end parking charges.

Mr Farage, who suffered serious injuries in a plane crash during the 2010 election campaign, said the NHS was “vitally important to me”.

The Ukip leader, who has previously advocated a European-style insurance system to cover health costs, said the party was now fully committed to access being free at the point of use, paid for through general taxation.

Speaking in Rochester, the scene of the party’s “greatest election victory to date” in the contest that saw Mark Reckless returned to Westminster as Ukip’s second MP, Mr Farage hit out at Labour claims that the party backed privatisation.

He said: “Ukip is committed to an NHS that is free at the point of access and paid for out of taxation, full stop.

“But just because we believe in the NHS it doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of certain aspects of it. Certainly what we have seen over the last few years is a huge increase in money but not always a compensating increase in productivity.”

Mr Farage said Ukip’s plan to invest £3 billion a year could be achieved “without adding a penny to the public borrowing requirement”.

Ukip said the plan would provide 20,000 new nurses, 3,000 midwives and 8,000 GPs.

He said the plan to require foreigners to purchase health insurance as a condition of coming to the UK was “really about common sense”.

Spelling out measures to spare patients the cost of parking at hospitals he said: “We want to end the tax on health that is parking charges at hospitals, either for patients or families visiting them.”

Ukip’s health spokeswoman Louise Bours said the medical insurance scheme was about fairness.

“It’s not fair to expect British taxpayers to pay for foreign nationals to use the NHS. This is Britain – our NHS is the National Health Service not the international health service.”

Ukip will also insist that NHS bureaucrats must have a “licence to manage” as a statutory requirement, similar to the mandatory schemes for doctors and nurses.

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 and protect whistle-blowers and patients with grievances.

Ms Bours said Ukip would also integrate health and social care, warning that people were being treated “inhumanely” under current care arrangements.

That would help ease the strain on hospital A&E departments by reducing the bed blocking in wards that had led to increased waiting times in emergency departments.

Ukip would pilot a programme to put a GP in A&E units “to ease the burden on A&E staff who need to treat more seriously ill patients”.

If the pilot scheme was successful it would be rolled out nationally in England, Ms Bours said.

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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