By: George Owen

The Splash: How Will Your Vote Effect UK Healthcare?

With recent headlines dominated by staff shortages and waiting times at their worst levels yet, it’s no wonder healthcare is a crucial talking point in this year’s general election. In fact, the Ipsos Mori Issues Index recently found that the NHS was the second most important issue to the British public after Brexit.

It’s more and more frequently said that the NHS is at breaking point – so what do the main political parties plan to do about it?

We delve into their pledges and policies to find out what each party promises and how it could affect your job and your vote.

Conservatives

  • Make the NHS one of three key “People’s Priorities”
  • £20.5bn additional funding by 2023-24
  • £300m per year towards hiring 6000 more nurses, pharmacists, and physiotherapists
  • 500 more GPS in training per year over the next four years, leading to an additional 6000 GPs by 2024-25
  • £2.7bn to build six new hospitals, with plans to build 34 more
  • £1.8bn cash injection for 20 hospitals to cover vital equipment costs
  • 50m more GP appointments (a 15% increase) by modernising booking systems and consultations –including online, phone, and Skype appointments
  • New visa for foreign medics

Labour

  • £26bn additional funding per year – paid for by increased corporation tax
  • 3% annual increases in NHS spending – up from the current 1%
  • £1bn per year towards training and education, including restoring the training bursary for nurses
  • Increase GP training places from 3,500 to 5,000
  • £1bn towards expanding public health services
  • New £2bn mental health fund
  • New nationalised pharmaceutical company to manufacture affordable drugs
  • Free prescriptions
  • Scrap hospital parking charges

Lib Dems

  • Save the NHS by stopping Brexit
  • Raise an additional £6bn for health spending through 1p income tax increases
  • Reinstate bursaries for underpopulated nursing specialities, like mental health
  • Match mental health waiting times to those of physical health
  • Free prescriptions for patients with chronic conditions
  • Reduce health inequality
  • Improve access to GPs
  • Tackle child obesity

Greens

  • Repeal Health and Social Care Act 2012 and replace with NHS Reinstatement Act to roll back privatisation of the NHS
  • Close the NHS spending gap
  • Increased spending on mental healthcare to bring it in line with physical healthcare
  • Mental health awareness training for the public sector
  • Unite health and social services with a single budget to make access to both easier

SNP

  • NHS Protection Bill to safeguard the NHS from trade deals, increased medical costs, and privatisation
  • Increase primary care services budget to 11% of NHS frontline budget
  • Additional £500m per year to Scottish practises and health centres by 2021
  • 3% pay increase for NHS workers earning under £30k, 2% pay increase for workers earning over £30k, and increase cap on those earning over £80k
  • Increase the number of GPs in Scotland by 800 over the next decade, with incentives for GPS to work in remote or rural practices
  • Reduce Scottish suicide rate by 20%
  • Long-term strategy to tackle obesity

Plaid Cymru

  • Commitment to a free NHS with no privatisation
  • Train and recruit an additional 5000 nurses across the NHS
  • Continual personal development support for nurses with more funding and financial incentives for specialist training
  • 1000 additional doctors for Welsh NHS
  • Financial incentives for medical professionals in hard-to-recruit areas
  • National commitment on cancer, including 28-day diagnosis guarantee 

We hope you find our round-up interesting and informative. As ever, though, it’s important to retain a healthy dose of scepticism when it comes to healthcare pledges. Both the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and NHS Providers have warned that the NHS is likely to be used as “guaranteed vote bait” so remember to look into the parties’ history on nursing, healthcare, and the NHS – as well as what they promise for the future.

In the weeks leading up to the general election, we’ll be publishing more guides to party policies and how they affect your key sectors. Don’t forget to look out for our upcoming posts on Social Care, Criminal Justice, Animal Health, and Life Sciences.