Green Party reaffirms nurse pay rise pledge in manifesto

The Green Party has released its 2024 general election manifesto, in which it promised to fight for an immediate pay rise for NHS staff and for extra taxes on the wealthy to increase health and social care funding.

Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay released the full manifesto on Wednesday, 12 June, with a focus on social justice and tackling climate change.

The wording in the manifesto suggests that the Green Party is not expecting to lead the next government.

Instead, its manifesto lists a series of promises which its MPs – if elected – would push for, most likely from the opposition bench, committees or as a minority partner of a coalition.

“We live in one of the richest countries on the planet, yet nurses are using food banks, our children’s schools are crumbling, a roof over our heads is all too often unaffordable, and hospital and dentist appointments are like gold dust,” a joint statement by Ms Denyer and Mr Ramsay said.

“Our promise to you is that all this can change. We can create a greener, fairer country together – one in which we are all safer, happier and more fulfilled.

“It will take MPs prepared to make brave, principled choices on your behalf. And it will take the kinds of policies set out in this manifesto, for which elected Green MPs will fight hard every single day for you.”

Nursing Times has broken down the key promises the party has made relating to nurses, health and social care.

Workforce and recruitment

The party pledged to campaign for an “immediate boost” to pay for NHS staff, adding that it hoped retention would improve as a result. A specific promise to “restore” junior doctors’ pay features in the manifesto, though no equivalent was pledged for nurses or midwives.

Green MPs would also, if elected, press for an end to university tuition fees and the “restoration of grants”.

A pay rise and better career structure for social care workers is also something the party would fight for, said the manifesto.

Mental health

The manifesto said Green MPs in the next parliament would push for mental health funding to be put on an “equal footing” with physical health.

This, it said, would allow for access to mental health therapies within 28 days of initial contact with services, a counsellor for every school and sixth-form in the country and “adequate” support for neurodivergent children and those with special educational needs.

The party also pledged “tailored” mental health provision for older people, children and adolescents, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people.

A legal framework to support those with mental health conditions would be pushed for by Green MPs in the next parliament.

Access to care

As with most other leading political parties standing the election, the Green Party has pledged to push for significant improvements to accessing healthcare, including dentistry.

The manifesto said Green MPs, if elected, would work towards reducing NHS waiting lists each year, offering guaranteed access to an NHS dentist and same-day GP access in the case of urgent need.

Funding for health and social care

The Green Party said the sector needed an additional £8bn for the first full year of the next parliament, and that this figure would need to rise to £28bn by 2030.

Further, the party called for an additional £20bn capital spend over the next five years for repairs to the NHS estate, including hospitals.

The party said its MPs would push for increasing the allocation of funding for primary care annually by £1.5bn by 2030, for the restoration of public health budgets to 2015-16 levels, including an immediate £1.5bn annual increase.

The manifesto pledged to push for a £20bn investment in social care. This would go towards introducing free personal care similar to that which is available in Scotland, as well as the social care staff pay rise.

As well as this, it would press for £3bn for local authorities to fund children’s social care and an increase of annual NHS dentistry funding by £3bn by 2030.

To fund this, the party said it would impose a 1% wealth tax on assets over £10m and 2% on assets over £1bn, as well as other tax reforms including removing the upper earnings limit on national insurance.

Among its pledges on housing, the party said it would push for legislation to ensure all developers invest in health facilities and other local infrastructure.

Other health issues

The Green Party’s manifesto also included a set of pledges for other matters relating to health and social care.

One of these was a promise to support a change in law to legalise assisted dying for those with terminal illness and who are experiencing “prolonged unnecessary suffering”, with proper safeguards.

Another was to advocate for measures to end new cases of HIV by 2030. These included widening access to the HIV prevention pill to be available online, in pharmacies and via GPs – as well as increasing opt-out HIV testing in accident and emergency.

Green MPs, the manifesto said, would push for a national commission to be set up in order to “agree an evidence-based approach” to reform the current drug laws in the UK.

The Green Party said its MPs would campaign for the right for transgender and non-binary people to self-identify. Currently, trans people need sign-off from doctors to gain a gender recognition certificate.

The party also pledged to repeal “anti-union legislation”, likely referring to laws including the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 and the Trade Union Act 2016, replacing them with a Charter of Workers’ Rights. This, the Green Party said, would include the “right to strike at its heart”.

Nursing response to the manifesto

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) acting chief executive and general secretary Professor Nicola Ranger welcomed the Green Party’s pledges around boosting NHS pay, abolishing tuition fees and the restoration of higher education grants.

However, Professor Ranger said she did not think the party had allocated enough money in its plans to reach a “substantial” and above-inflation pay rise for nurses, and pointed out the lack of a specific nurse pay restoration promise, where one existed for junior doctors.

“Nursing staff will also welcome a commitment to repeal anti-trade union laws,” Professor Ranger added.

“Services delivered in the community desperately need investment to end the national emergency in our hospitals, but more will be needed to ensure a long term and sustainable funding approach to social care, not just more quick fixes.

“Improving care workers’ pay, as laid out in the manifesto, can help with the cost of living and ease widespread workforce shortages across the sector.”

The release of the full Green Party manifesto comes after the party mooted some of its key pledges earlier this month.

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