NHS Providers response to the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative manifestos

29 November 2019

Commenting in response to key health and care commitments set out in the Conservative, the Labour, and Liberal Democrat manifestos, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"The NHS remains at the front and centre of this election campaign.

"We asked politicians not to weaponise the NHS in this election campaign, and continue to encourage all political parties to set out realistic and deliverable proposals that reflect the pressing workforce, demand and performance challenges facing the NHS."

We asked politicians not to weaponise the NHS in this election campaign, and continue to encourage all political parties to set out realistic and deliverable proposals that reflect the pressing workforce, demand and performance challenges facing the NHS.

   

On NHS workforce and training…

"With over 100,000 vacancies across the NHS, workforce remains the top concern for trust leaders. All parties have pledged to grow the NHS workforce, but the health service will need more  support to retain the staff it is losing due to demand pressures and loss of training opportunities.

"While the commitment from the parties to reinstate nursing bursaries to help attract more applicants is right, we have to be honest about the continuing need to recruit from overseas to meet our staffing needs. A future immigration system and relationship with the European Union must protect the NHS’s ability to recruit overseas. 

"In the run-up to the winter months and the NHS’ busiest period, we have seen the direct impact on patients and NHS performance as senior NHS staff feel compelled to reduce working hours or retire to avoid punitive pension tax bills. All major parties have vowed to resolve this issue. There are proposals that may help this year, but we quickly need to see fair long-term solution that meets the needs of all NHS staff."

 

While the commitment from the parties to reinstate nursing bursaries to help attract more applicants is right, we have to be honest about the continuing need to recruit from overseas to meet our staffing needs.

   

On NHS funding...

"Following nearly a decade long funding squeeze for the NHS, it is welcome that all three of the major political parties have pledged an increase in day-to-day funding for the health service. While the Conservatives and Labour have pledged to raise spending by 3.4% and 3.9% respectively, much nearer to historic averages, we have to be realistic about the scale of the challenge now to recover performance, secure the workforce we need, regain financial balance and invest in the services of the future. We also have to be clear about how these pledges are funded."

On capital investment…

"The maintenance backlog across the NHS is now at record levels. While commitments of new hospitals and investment in cancer equipment are welcome, they are only a first step towards what will be required to rebuild our health services and make them fit for the 21st century.

"If the NHS is to meet all the demands placed on it, we need to upgrade and invest in new services and facilities to improve care for patients. We must move away from relying on piecemeal announcements and secure a long term-strategy and settlement, which brings the NHS’ capital budget in line with comparable economies, and ensure the money gets to where it is needed most."

While commitments of new hospitals and investment in cancer equipment are welcome, they are only a first step towards what will be required to rebuild our health services and make them fit for the 21st century.

   

On mental health...

"We are pleased to see a continued focus from all parties to meet pledges to deliver equity between mental and physical health services. But we know in practice that money earmarked for mental health services does not consistently reach the frontline and the sector suffers from shortages of specialised staff. The Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have committed ring-fenced funding for mental health services with a focus on modernising mental health facilities and eliminating out of area placements. THIS will need to be underpinned by a realistic investment and workforce strategy."

On social care…

"While the three main parties all acknowledge the need for meaningful reform of the adult social care system and a funding solution, more detailed commitments are required to ensure social care is not again the forgotten relative. The parties have promised varying amounts of extra money for the current system, including Labour’s offer free personal care and a cap on expenditure on care costs within a ‘national care service’. The election presented a genuine opportunity for parties to tackle the scandal of our overstretched, underfunded social care services which have a profound impact on the quality of the lives of millions of people, and the future sustainability of the NHS. That opportunity must not be missed."

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