Fabio Conti is a GP in West London and a former Ealing councillor. He contested Ealing Southall in the 2017 general election.
A work colleague asked me recently: why, as someone who works in the NHS, they should vote Conservative? The Conservative manifesto demonstrates why: It places the NHS rightly centre stage.
The NHS has come to define Britain, and working in it as a GP I am reminded every day about what an incredible job it does.
The manifesto highlights that the beating heart and greatest asset of the NHS is its over one million staff. Therefore, commitments for 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more doctors in General Practice, and 6,000 more professionals such as pharmacists and physiotherapists working in GP practices across the country, backed up with £34 billion extra funding a year, are vital in making our health service fit for the future.
There is a real sense of pressure within the Health Service, with increasing demand and an increasing work load, morale can often be low. The acknowledgement in the manifesto of the need to boost morale is important. The big increases in the work force will play its part, but also a commitment increasing funding for training is essential. Enabling staff to grow and develop throughout their careers is key.
We know that ill health, both physical and mental, is multifactorial, and therefore it is exciting that the manifesto commits to extending social prescribing – an area that is prominent in the NHS Long Term Plan – through the growing primary care networks.
Social prescribing looks to address the non-health causes of ill-health. It can be a driver to building resilience, tackling isolation and guide people towards further help and support. A scheme in Rotherham demonstrated an improvement in the wellbeing of participants and reduction in demand for health services.
There are also commitments in the manifesto on improving care in mental health and for people with learning difficulties, extending the Cancer Drug Fund, raising standards in maternity care, and promoting uptake in vaccinations. This is an exciting agenda for the future, even before mentioning the infrastructure commitments for new hospitals and hospital upgrades.
We can’t think of the NHS without also thinking of social care. Pressures within social care have a direct impact on the NHS, that is why the commitment to build a cross-party consensus to develop a solution to tackle the extraordinary pressures within social care is so important. Finding a long-term solution has been kicked into the long grass by successive governments of all colours, it is now time to deliver this, and working cross party is the only way to achieve it.
In order to deliver this investment in public services we need a thriving and dynamic economy. This is what a Conservative Government will deliver. As history has shown us, the failed policies of the past presented by Corbyn will sink our economy – and therefore our public services too.
So if you want to see the NHS improve and grow in the years ahead then the only choice on the 12th December is to vote Conservative.