by Jonathan Bisby
Like with any general election, the NHS is always a key battleground. Promises on healthcare from the political parties in their recently published manifestos has grabbed headlines as they attempt to secure votes. Here are some of the main manifesto promises that the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and other parties have made during this year’s election campaign:
- £34 billion extra funding a year for the NHS by 2023-24
- £750 million a year funding to provide 50,000 more nurses in the next parliament
- Maintenance grants of between £5,000 and £8,000 a year for student nurses
- A pledge to spend £28 for every pound that the Conservatives have pledged
- Increase expenditure across the health sector by an average of 4.3% a year
- A promise of a ‘lifetime cap’ on personal contributions towards care costs
- £7 billion additional funding to the NHS
- A penny on income tax for the NHS and raise £35bn to spend on the NHS and social care
- Bursaries for nursing students studying specialties where shortages are most acute
Access to services and medicines
- Upgrades on six hospitals by 2025 and a commitment to start building new ones over the next decade
- Free hospital parking in England for NHS staff and some patients
- A commitment to make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences after Brexit and to work collaboratively internationally and with the EU on scientific research, including Horizon
- Abolish prescription charges in England
- Establish a generic drug company to improve fair prices on medicines
- They have promised to stabilise overstretched A&E departments and improve stroke, heart disease and cancer survival rates by providing earlier diagnosis and improved screening rates
- Progress the clinically appropriate prescription of medicinal cannabis
- £10 billion capital fund to upgrade facilities and equipment in hospitals and NHS buildings
- A pledge to increase mental health services and provisions and reduce waiting times for these services by reforming the Health and Social Care Act and end what they call automatic tendering of health services
- They will increase access to medicinal drugs on prescription, such as medicinal cannabis, drawing on international evidence to establish a clear evidence base for research in the UK
- A commitment to increase the number of GP posts from 3,500 to 4,000 from 2021/22 and create an extra 50 million appointments in general practice by 2024/25.
- NHS Visa for trained nurses and other health professionals coming into the country to make it easier to enter, but no similar pledge to social care
- Delivery of the NHS People Plan with a commitment to recruit 6,000 more health professionals into primary care, which includes pharmacists, retain skilled workers within the current workforce and improve staff morale
- Pledge to ensure that community pharmacy is supported
- They will increase of 5,000 fully qualifies GPs into the NHS
- Create an NHS working environment that is ‘safe, flexible and free from harassment, bullying or violence’
- Retain free movement of workers by preventing the UK from leaving the European Union and supporting the current European GP workforce and attract more GPs to work in this country
- End the shortfall of GPs by 2025, pharmacy was mentioned as a profession which they will make greater appropriate use of
- Expand GP training places to 5,000 by the end of the next parliament
The Scottish National Party is calling for the next government to invest significantly in the NHS and have promised to boost Scotland’s budget for the NHS by £4 billion over the course of the next Parliament. They will also introduce the NHS Protection Act, which they say will protect the health service from any future trade deals in Scotland.
In Wales, Plaid Cymru are planning for an overhaul of healthcare and have pledged to provide 1,000 extra doctors, 5,000 nurses and 100 dentists to be trained and integrated into the Welsh NHS. They are also calling for free social care at the point of need for elder people in society, estimating that this will cost the Welsh Government £300 million a year. A 5% increase pledge in mental health spending over the next decade is also a significant announcement.
The Green Party have also announced that they will increase funding to the NHS by at least £6 billion each year until 2030 and ensure that mental health care is put on an equal footing with physical health care. They will add a further £1 billion a year into nursing education, as well as reinstating nursing bursaries for students.
We are calling for the political parties to support pharmacy. Take a look at the RPS General Election Toolkit and our general election blog. This is an opportunity for you to have your say and help make the voice of the profession heard.