2019 General Election: pre-election period considerations for NHS foundation trusts and trusts

This briefing sets out considerations for NHS foundation trusts and trusts in the period of time known as the pre-election period, or ‘purdah’, leading up to the 2019 UK general election on 12 December. It highlights the practical implications around provider activities.


It also covers the requirements on central and local government, the civil service and arm’s length bodies during purdah to maintain political impartiality in carrying out their public duties and ensuring that public resources are not used for the purposes of political parties or campaign groups.

General election timetable 

6 November

 Parliament dissolves  and pre-election/purdah period begins

25 November

Voter registration deadline  

12 December

General election 

13 December

Purdah ends (if new government formed) 


The term ‘purdah’ is used across central and local governments to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants and local government officials, where appropriate, are in place. The term pre-election period is also used synonymously with purdah.

Purdah prevents announcements from and activities by public bodies which could influence or be seen to influence the election. Purdah officially applies until the day following the general election, but effectively applies during any period of negotiation around the formation of a government.


No activity should be undertaken which could be considered politically controversial or influential, which could compete for public attention or which could be identified with a party/candidate/designated campaign group.

Would you do the same for everyone?
NHS providers have discretion in their approach, but must be able to demonstrate the same approach for every political party, official candidate and designated campaign groups in order to:

The NHS may be under the media spotlight, locally and nationally
. It is advisable to have a plan in place for:


Download the full briefing for rules and regulations for NHS foundation trusts and trusts during purdah.