Seconds out – 100 days to go….from At Home with Mark

The gloves have been well and truly removed – if they were ever off in the first place – and the BBC’s already gone into General Election overdrive.  Even good old Jeremy Vine’s probably dusted off his Swingometer in readiness.  One hundred days to go and counting.

To coincide with this milestone the BBC published the results of a poll, it carried out with Populus, asking just over 4,000 people what were the most important issues they thought should be covered by the news.  It’s just a different way of asking the question about the things that matter to you – the NHS, Immigration, etc – when you come to vote.

Housing made it to the top 13 in the BBC survey.  Mid-table mediocrity again I’m afraid, 8th – but I’m convinced that’s going to change as more people, whose lives are compromised by the lack of housing, realise the influence they are going to be able to exert over the next 14 weeks. Remember the mighty million!

The NHS remains top of the pile in the BBC and other polls.  Unsurprisingly, therefore, Labour kicked off its run in to 7 May by announcing its 10-year blueprint for health services.

Whichever – if any – political party you support, I think we would all accept that the NHS is one of the crowning achievements of this country.  I think we would also accept that it has reached a crossroads.  Status quo is not an option.  Change is necessary if the NHS is going to have a long-term sustainable future.

I think part of the solution is obvious.  Too many people are taking up time, and beds, when GPs or hospitals are not the answer to their problems.  But inadequate care and support in their communities means they don’t have an option. A greater integration of services must surely be the way forward, providing support and even identifying and preventing problems in the first place.  From both an individual and NHS perspective it looks like a win win to me.

But there’s got to be a will and there’s got to be the cash to deliver a properly integrated system.  Both sides of the equation – hospital/GP + community care – must balance.

This is going to be the longest election campaign in history.  It’s the first time we’ve had a fixed term Parliament so we’ve known for years the date of the General Election.  It seems the political parties and the media have used the excuse of 100 days to go to kick-start their campaigns and coverage.  It’s going to be fascinating and frustrating in equal measures.  It also means there is time and space to debate and discuss and ensure the politicians grasp what’s important to the people they want to govern…whether that’s a properly integrated health service or a housing policy that’s fit for purpose.