With the 2019 snap election drawing closer, one of the major focus points is the NHS. And rightly so!
As usual, the NHS features heavily in discussions and debates around election time, being something that’s so central within UK society. Each party pledges to fund a certain amount to the NHS and often offers a plan on how they will improve NHS services. In the past nine years the NHS has only seen marginal increases to their budget, which has led to an even bigger emphasis on the spending plans proposed by each party.
Funding the NHS
During Brexit, Conservatives aimed to position themselves as “the party of the NHS”, stating that they should fund the NHS, rather than the £350m a week that the European Union receives. Yet despite this, they are only pledging £20.5bn, which falls £5.5bn short of Labour’s promise of £26bn. Conservatives have not yet offered any health policies or plans for the NHS to accompany their spending, instead opting to offshore the planning to Simon Stevens.
On the other hand, Labour have pledged a rescue plan which will end the ongoing delays that patients face in A&E care, cancer treatment and planned operations. They have also stated that they will work to lessen issues with the current NHS staffing crisis, restore student nurses bursaries, improve mental healthcare and to budget for hospitals to purchase a significant amount of new CT and MRI scanners across the board. Labour believes that they can achieve this by 2023-24 by taxing the highest earners and companies in society.
The Labour and Conservative Approaches
In the past, despite Conservative efforts, Labour has been known as “the party of the NHS” due to their continued support of the institution. Typically, health organisations representing NHS staff are welcoming towards Labour’s plans as opposed to Conservatives. This is primarily down to the minimal budget increases (just over 1% a year) they receive under Conservative ruling.
To combat the promises of Conservatives, Labour have promised to outspend Conservatives at any cost. Labour have not been in power since 2010 and may need to deliver on their promises, as John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, says that proper funding is needed in order to maintain a true world class health service. He recommends at least a 4.3% annual rise in funding in order to achieve this. However, the Conservatives are vying to bring the NHS onto their platform, with a pledged £2.7bn for building work and developments - we may see further details to their plans in the coming days.
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