NHS question posed to Parliamentary candidates

Many Islanders are worried about healthcare, particularly NHS waiting lists and access to adult social care.

We asked the 10 candidates standing for Parliament on both sides of the Island to give us 120 words in answer to the following question:

In March there were 7.54million people waiting for consultant-led NHS care (in February 2020, prior to the pandemic, there were 4.43million). There is also unprecedented demand for adult social care services. What are the policies of your party that would improve NHS wait times and care and the provision of adult social services on the Island?

(answers printed in the order in which they were received)

Isle of Wight West

Richard Quigley – Labour
We’ve all seen the state the Tory party have got our NHS in, breaking morale, and failing to invest. It’s now all too common to hear of people being diagnosed too late and medical interventions taking place in corridors. The Labour Party will create an additional 40,000 nurse training places, double doctor training places to 15,000, end unacceptable waits and reduce waiting lists through the use of paid overtime. Create a neighbourhood health service, with local centres in our communities. Double the number of CTI and MRI scanners nationally. Employ an additional 8,500 mental health staff, every community to have an open access mental health hub. Locally, that means ensuring the default position is not sending patients across the Solent

Nick Stuart – Liberal Democrat
A massive waiting list requires staff so we have to retain existing people and train more. Lib Dem headline policies include 8,000 more doctors. Lib Dems would also introduce free social care, hire more social care staff providing training and a carers minimum wage. We would also increase carers’ allowance and provide respite breaks for unpaid carers. Care is to be paid for by reversing tax cuts given to banks by the Conservatives.
More widely the Lib Dems would rebuild relations with health employees to improve the morale and staff retention to the benefit of patients and the NHS. While reducing long-term health problems and the associated economic and social impact.

Ian Pickering – Reform UK
Reform UK has an Emergency Health & Social Care Plan, which lays out some achievable, although challenging, national goals. Full details are available on our website.
There is a staffing crisis in the NHS, and we want to introduce zero income tax for front-line staff and social care personnel. This will help retain staff and bring some back into the health care professions. We want to cut the number of managers, whose salaries reduce front-line funding but add nothing to the outcomes of the service users.
By using private health care providers, we can reduce waiting lists and, with added efficiencies, bring them down to zero within two years. It can be done if the will is there.

Bob Seely – Conservative
Waiting lists have fallen by around 200,000 since September 2023, but we know there is more to do. We’ve commissioned the first-ever long-term NHS Workforce Plan, supported by £2.4bn over the next five years, to ensure we have the right doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals in our NHS delivering on our priority to cut waiting lists. Soon we’ll have a Community Diagnostic Centre on the Island to deliver more scans, tests and checks, freeing up GP appointments.
The Conservatives will deliver a lifetime cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care, plus introduce hundreds of thousands of new training places for care workers.

Cameron Palin

Cameron Palin – Green Party
It’s not as straightforward as “do this and it’ll be addressed”. Green Party members have passed policy to ensure that social care is publicly funded, and on a par with the NHS. I firmly believe need, not wealth, should determine access to these vital services.
To drive down waiting lists, we must recruit and retain more staff, end privatisation and improve pay/conditions. Additionally, we would end tuition fees, as these are a barrier to new staff training and joining the NHS. These would all help encourage thousands more people to qualify as nurses, anaesthetists and specialist doctors. Fourteen years of Tory cuts has brought the NHS to its knees; we must now help it get back up standing strong.


Isle of Wight East

Michael Lilley – Liberal Democrat
Liberal Democrats believe that investing in prevention through public health initiatives and primary care is the most effective way to enhance well-being and reduce the burden on NHS services. The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to train 8,000 more GPs and give pharmacists more prescribing power, as part of a plan to solve the pressures hitting the NHS. Move towards a preventative approach to social care, so people can stay in their own homes for longer. Introduce a real living wage for care workers and invest in skills, and accreditation of the workforce. Provide a package to support unpaid carers who, without on the Island, we would have a bigger crisis. We have to invest in people’s health.

Vix Lowthian – Green Party
The Green Party believe in a publicly-run health service. As your MP candidate I have signed the “We Own It” pledge for the NHS.
We must build capacity so that our fantastic nurses, health assistants, doctors and surgeons can get on and do the best job they can. We must fairly pay staff so that they can afford to stay in the NHS. We must fight to keep local GP practices (such as at Wootton Bridge).
It is Green Party policy that Social Care is publicly funded and on a par with the NHS. Need, not wealth, should determine access. Wages in the social care sector must rise to help fill the large number of vacancies on the Island.

Joe Robertson – Conservative
For the first time, we have an NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, which includes almost doubling the number of doctor and nurse training places. On the Island a government-funded £10 million diagnostic centre is due to open this year. The best way of relieving pressure on hospitals is to invest in preventative care and community care to reduce avoidable hospital admissions, which accounts for around a quarter of bed occupancy. I work for a national nursing charity, working alongside the NHS and care homes in order to place more nurses in the community. If elected as MP, I will campaign in Parliament for better community care and more support for adult social care, backed by my own career experience.

Sarah Morris – Reform UK
Reform UK will give tax incentives to staff directly employed by the NHS, to cut out the agencies. We will remove the cap on medical students to allow more to train, and will scrap their student debt after 10 years’ working within the NHS. We will give front-line staff a zero rate of tax, to give them more cash in their pockets. We will get our waiting lists down to zero within two years. We will utilise the private sector to do this, and encourage surgeons and consultants to work longer hours by lifting the cap on their pension pots. Our care workers won’t pay any tax on the first £20,000 they earn.

Emily Brothers – Labour
Labour will get to work cutting NHS waiting lists which stand at 163,163 across Isle of Wight and Hampshire. We’ll put the NHS back on its feet and make it fit for the future.
In government, Labour will ensure the NHS is a Neighbourhood Health Service, moving care closer to people’s homes. We will deliver an extra 40,000 appointments a week at evenings and weekends, paid for by clamping down on tax dodgers, because patients need doctors, not dodgers.
Labour will tackle the adult social-care crisis through long-term reform, establishing a world-class National Care Service. We will deliver a sector-wide Fair Pay Agreement for Adult Social-Care staff, and raise national standards. “Wait with the Tories. Change with Labour.”