In less than a week, polls open to decide who will lead the next Scottish Parliamentary session. In our latest blog, Rob Mackie gives a brief overview of what the future holds for community nursing.
All parties have now released their manifestos, and while polling data suggests that the SNP will lead the next session with a majority, whatever happens, it appears to be positive for health and social care, and specifically Primary Care. Immediate benefits for the wider community nursing is less clear cut.
The SNP have said they will transform primary care, introducing multi-disciplinary community hubs, and promising to create an extra 1,000 places for nurses and midwives. They will also look to implement their own national clinical strategy, published towards the beginning of this year, which develops the 2020 Vision for a further 15 years, and also promotes primary care and the establishment of multi-disciplinary teams. They also pledged an additional £1.3billion in developing the integrated partnerships.
Like all parties, they pledged to improve mental health services.
Most of the intrigue lies in who will lead the opposition, Labour or the Conservatives.
Labour have promised the development of GP clusters; guaranteeing an appointment within 48 hours, which they will meet by investing in staff for local surgeries, enabling pharmacists to provide low-level prescribing and to invest in more Advanced Nurse Practitioners. They also pledged an additional 500 health visitors to ensure the best start in life for Scots, and a National Loneliness Strategy for older people, to ensure our later years are spent happily.
The Conservatives plan to gradually increase prescription charges for those who can afford them. With this additional budget, they will invest in nurses, GPs, health visitors and access to new medicines. They are also pledging to develop GP clusters as part of a plan to enhance primary care. They will commit to a universal GP-attached health visitor, pledging to hire 500 more over and above the numbers already promised by the SNP. The pledge to expand the minor ailment service, and exploring a levy on missed appointments would also make for interesting changes to GP clusters. The Conservatives also have a laudable push for increased healthy living, and for supporting social prescribing.
The Liberal Democrats, unsurprisingly, put mental health at the heart of their health pledges. They also committed to increase the spending on primary care, recruiting and training more GPs, nurses, AHPs and counsellors to work in general practice. They also highlighted giving more professional freedoms to health and social care workers and increased rights on social prescribing. They also mentioned the extension of the use of technology enabled care – something largely missing from other manifestos.
The Green Party pledged to reduce the amount of paperwork for those in healthcare roles, thereby increasing patient-facing time, and to protect time for the learning and career development of healthcare workers. The Greens also promoted the idea of healthy living, and introducing a levy on unhealthy food and drink.
With the SNP likely to be in power come May 6th, it is likely that there will be a focus on primary care over the next five years, but with the other major parties also promoting GP clusters and increased focus on primary care, if they drag their feet, whoever is in opposition will be there to remind them.