Election 2015 England

Election issue: Health concerns for London

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Media captionWhat health challenges does the next government face to keep Londoners happy?

The promises could be summed up pretty simply - more money, more staff and better care.

Across the political divide there is a recognition that the NHS will be crucial when it comes to how people cast their votes on 7 May, hence the pledges in the manifestos.

But the challenges ahead in London are very real ones.

In the last year, the capital's hospital trusts were £300m in debt - £93m of which is at the country's biggest trust, Barts Health.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Trusts across London are struggling to recruit staff

Across the city, hospitals are struggling to recruit staff, with shortages in nursing, emergency departments and maternity.

Many have been bringing in staff from overseas, with recruiting trips to Portugal, Spain and Ireland.

Research by BBC London last year showed the trusts were also increasingly having to use temporary agency nurses, with the bill for the whole of London pushing £400m in the last year.

All this at a time when most of the capital's hospitals have failed to meet the A&E target of seeing patients within 4 hours, and one trust was the worst performing in accident and emergency department over the winter.

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Image caption Four accident and emergency departments across London have closed since the last election

It is a similar story for the London Ambulance Service.

It has just had its busiest year on record and has struggled to meet attendance times.

The service had to go as far afield as Australia and New Zealand to recruit an extra 400 paramedics.

The re-organisation of health care in the capital continues to provoke strong local campaigns.

Protestors in Lewisham won a high court battle to keep their local emergency department but since the last election, four accident and emergency departments have closed at Chase Farm, Queen Mary's in Sidcup, at Hammersmith and at Central Middlesex.

Five more remain under threat of closure or being downgraded - those at King George in Ilford, Charing Cross, Ealing, Epsom and St Helier.

Plenty of challenges at a time when the NHS nationally is being told it's going to have to save £30bn.

So what are the parties offering?

CONSERVATIVES

Increase NHS spending by at least £8bn a year over the next five years

GP surgeries open from 8am - 8pm and seven day access to doctors

Integration of health and social care

LABOUR

An extra £2.5bn a year funding for the NHS

Access to a GP appointment within 48 hours

Integrate health and social care and scrap the Health and Social Care Act

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Increase real terms NHS spending by £8bn by 2020

£3.5bn extra for mental health

Integrate health and social care budgets

UKIP

Extra £3bn a year to frontline services

GP surgeries open at least one evening per week where there's demand for it

Scrap hospital parking charges

GREENS

Increase NHS budgets by £12bn a year

Make mental health more of a priority

Repeal the Health and Social Care Act

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