Corbyn promises huge step towards “truly universal” health service
Corbyn promises huge step towards “truly universal” health service by scrapping prescription charges, taking on big pharma and delivering free personal care, so that our healthcare system puts public health ahead of private wealth
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is today promising that the next Labour government will put “public health ahead of private wealth” and make a huge step towards a “truly universal” health service by abolishing prescription charges in England, ensuring that vital drugs are available at prices that the National Health Service can afford and introducing free personal care to support older people so they can live independently with dignity in their own homes.
Visiting a pharmacy in the key marginal seat of Watford, the Labour Leader will set out Labour’s plans to scrap prescription charges in England as part of the party’s plans to expand universalism in public services and tackle health inequalities.
After the Queen’s Speech failed to set out any legislation on social care, provided no details of any proposals and did not set a time limit for any reforms, the Labour Leader will also set out Labour’s plans to more than double the number of people receiving state-funded care and reduce the number of people facing catastrophic costs in old age for their care. Labour will:
- Introduce free personal care for older people, providing help with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and washing, and preparing meals in their own homes and residential care;
- Address the funding gap in social care;
Labour also promise to take on the big pharmaceutical companies which deny life-saving and life-changing medicines to ill patients by charging “extortionate prices” for drugs. Labour will:
- Be prepared to use compulsory licensing when necessary to secure patented medicines at a price that is affordable for the NHS;
- Make public funding for research conditional on the resulting drugs being priced affordably for all;
- Create a new publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to the NHS
Speaking ahead of the visit, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
“Healthcare is a human right. Nobody should be worried about being able to afford the medicines they need, and our NHS should not be priced out of providing the drugs people need because of pharmaceutical companies charging extortionate prices for medicines.
“The right to healthcare extends to the right to dignity and security in old age. Under the Tories, our social care sector is in a scandalous state, with one million people not getting the care they need. Labour will right this wrong and introduce personal care free at the point of use, extending state-funded care to hundreds of thousands more people.
“The next Labour government will make a huge step towards ensuring that our health service is truly universal by scrapping prescription charges, and taking on the big pharmaceutical companies so our healthcare system puts public health ahead of private wealth.
“Labour will make sure that when the public pay for research the public benefit, and we will create a new publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS – saving money and lives.”
Notes to Editors
Watford stands to gain enormously from Labour’s transformative plan to rebuild Britain:
Scrapping Universal Credit will spare more than 9,600 people in Watford the stress and misery of the Tories’ inhuman and disastrous flagship welfare policy.
An estimated 19,800 people in Watford will benefit from free personal care under the next Labour government.
At least 1,300 families in Watford can look forward to their annual electricity bills falling by £117 thanks to Labour’s radical plans to fit more than 25,000 square meters of solar panels on Watford’s rooftops.
And four of Watford’s 16 post offices will become part of Labour’s Post Bank network, which will provide face-to-face banking for all and help save Britain’s high streets.
Free personal care
Introduce free personal care for older people
- Personal care is the support a person may need for everyday activities. These activities may include getting in and out of bed, using the toilet, having a bath or shower, getting dressed or eating a meal. Personal care can be provided to people in their homes, or in residential care. Free personal care is already available to adults in Scotland who need these services.
- Providing free personal care will:
- Help more people receive publicly-funded care in their own home.
- Reduce the number of people facing catastrophic costs of over £100,000 for their care by 70,000.
- More than double the number of people receiving state-funded social care.
- Ensure that the distinction between health and care needs, which unfairly impacts people with dementia, is removed.
- IPPR (2019), Social Care: Free at the point of need https://www.ippr.org/files/2019-05/social-care-free-at-the-point-of-need-may-19.pdf
- Based on the average cost of home care per hour being £16 an hour and the average recipient of free personal care in Scotland receiving 11.7 hours a week of care, the average approximate saving could be £9,734 a year for someone self-funding their care.
- According to the Kings Fund, free personal care could require around an extra £6bn in 2020/21 and £8bn by 2030/31
- Free personal care has been supported by
- The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee
“To address unfairness in the system the Committee proposes bringing the entitlement for social care closer to the NHS by introducing free personal care, which would include help with washing, dressing or cooking”
- The charity Independent Age
- The Institute for Public Policy Research
- The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee
- According to research from Independent Age, three quarters of adults back the introduction of Free Personal Care
- Labour will legislate to introduce free personal care for older people both in their own homes and in residential care.
- Free personal care will remove the distinction between health and care needs that has been particularly devastating for people with dementia and their families, ensuring more people receive publicly-funded care.
- We will consult on eligibility criteria to ensure this system works for all, including people with complex conditions such as dementia.
- To enable us to introduce free personal care for working age-adults, we will collect data on the level of unmet need for care among this group. This will enable us to reduce this unmet need and work towards our ambition to extend free personal care to all working age adults.
Fund social care properly
- Labour’s fully-costed 2017 manifesto committed an additional £8 billion of social care funding over five years, covered by tax increases that protected 95 per cent of earners
- Labour will lay out our total additional social care spending pledges ahead of the General Election in our new fully-costed manifesto. Funding for Labour’s National Care Service will be through general taxation rather than any form of levy.
Labour’s National Care Service
- Labour’s 2017 manifesto set out our plan to deliver a National Care Service.
- Since then, Labour has also committed to move people with autism and learning disabilities back into the community from inappropriate inpatient hospitals.
- We have also committed to deliver 160,000 additional care packages to ensure more people receive the care they need.
- Labour will improve support for unpaid carers through an increase in carers allowance in line with Job Seekers’ Allowance and will publish a proper National Carers Strategy.
- One in three arthritis sufferers have not collected a prescription due to the cost.
- Women are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Source: British Medical Journal, 23 March 2016
- 87 per cent of asthma patients skipped their medication because of the prescription cost
Source: Survey of Health Professionals, Nursing Times, September 2019
- Three quarters of people with asthma struggle to afford their prescriptions.
- The estimated England annual cost would be £745m.
- £576 million is recovered from prescription charges annually, representing the amount of revenues lost after the abolition of charges. (DHSC accounts)
- £170m is a generous estimate of increased take up of medicines after the abolition of charges, which may initially increase the overall bill by 1.6%, The estimate is based on the most recent observed experience of prescription charge (in Scotland, from 2011). The experience in Wales (from 2007) was stable rates of take up, broadly in line with trends.
- £1m is a low-end estimate of savings that could be made from ending the schemes associated with administering prescription charges.
- Labour’s Medicines for the Many report: labour.org.uk/medicinesforthemany
A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug. Generic medicines work the same as brand-name medicines but, because they are produced outside of patents, they are cheaper.