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  • Writer's pictureCouncillor Maria Bowtell

Isn't reforming the NHS the bigger priority?

You may have heard the update from Reform UK about our plans to save the NHS. Let us get waiting lists to zero in 2 years! 

I back these plans and how the party plans to fund them. I don't think our 1% contribution to global carbon emissions is as important as improving our nation's health. 

But what do you think?

What is MORE important to you?

  • Net Zero in 25 years

  • Restoring the NHS and tackling waiting lists

The problems in the NHS are significant

  • Hospital beds have been cut from 300,000 to 141,000 while the population has grown by 20%

  • Per head of population, NHS spending is similar to other Western countries. Sadly, the NHS is being let down by incompetent management, bureaucracy, waste, and scandals. 

  • The NHS has a leadership crisis. This will take time to fix. It is about structure and motivation.

maria bowtell speaking at a health forum event in Bridlington

I want to add some relevant 'meat to the bones' as your local parliamentary candidate for Bridlington and the Wolds. Some of the things I would change:

1. Cut waste

As a recently resigned Governor of York Trust, I have seen first-hand the volume of waste within our hospitals. 

Too many top managers and 'Inclusion and Diversity' roles. I would rather see more nurses and so would staff.

2. Stop Centralisation

Bring services back to coastal and rural areas like ours. Getting a train and a taxi to an appointment is not just costly in time and money. For a urology (bladder) appointment in Malton, it is not kind to have to travel far. We had a consultant clinic in Bridlington not that long ago? ... poor management decisions again to centralise at the detriment of the East Riding patients.

3. Prioritise reducing waiting lists over Net Zero

photo of an empty ward in bridlington Hospital taken in august 2023

Carbon-neutral Bridlington Hospital (at the cost of 4.7mil) is a green elephant. The hospital has empty wards and halls. 

To send local patients across 1.7 million miles of poorly maintained roads to sit in traffic at often congested city hospitals like York is diabolical. That is IF the patient or their carer is fortunate enough to have a vehicle!

In the press conference the funding for these ideas was covered, all of Reform UK's policies have been costed. The long and short of it is to scrap Net Zero and prioritise our NHS.


More detail and costings can be found on the Reform UK policy page linked here.

Reform UK has made the following pledges, I will fight for:

Transform Doctor and Nurse Availability.

  • All frontline NHS and social care staff are to pay zero basic rate tax for 3 years. This will help retain existing staff and attract back many who have recently left. We want the best staff with patients, not in offices behind desks or retired.

Use Independent Healthcare Capacity.

  • Cut waiting lists by using UK & overseas providers. The vast majority do not mind who delivers the cure, we just want the pain gone. This independent sector includes many not-for-profit health providers that provide some of the best care. Organisations such as Nuffield Health and Marie Curie, which provide end-of-life cancer care are charities. We want to encourage more of these organisations to end the NHS crisis.

Tax Relief of 20% on all Private Healthcare and Insurance.

  • We will incentivise people who can afford to pay more. This will improve care for all as pressure on the NHS is significantly reduced. Those who rely on the NHS will enjoy faster, better care. Independent healthcare capacity will grow rapidly, providing competition and reducing costs. Firms should be encouraged to offer staff health insurance - this will become standard. Labour will instead add VAT on independent healthcare, which will make the NHS worse off.

Doctor and Nurse Training.

  • End training caps for all UK medical students. Write off student fees pro rata per year over 10 years of NHS service for all doctors, nurses & medical staff.

There are also plans thereafter here are a couple of my favourites:

Cut waste, Bureaucracy and Unnecessary Managers.

  • Focus on results, not targets. Nail down better prices using economies of scale. Better IT for example. Review all Private Finance Contracts in NHS. Significant savings potential. Remove Lifetime Cap on NHS Pensions. This causes 70% of surgeons to reduce their hours.

Excess Deaths and Vaccine Harms Public Inquiry.

  • Excess deaths are nearly as high as they were during the Covid pandemic. Young people are overrepresented.


As a Trustee for Bridlington Health Forum we have our next Public meeting with guest speaker Andy Kingdom from East Riding of Yorkshire Council coming to present some stark facts.

poster for Brildington Health Forum public meeting 1pm North Library 10th April 2024

It would be great to see as many residents as possible but be warned we usually have to turn people away so be early to get a seat.

The meeting will be followed by the health forum's Annual General Meeting.

Hope to see you soon and it would be amazing to get your feedback and ideas on how you think we should tackle restoring our NHS.

May God bless you,

Maria Bowtell

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