So after months of campaigning, and commentators pontificating about the implications of all the different coalition permutations, we have a majority government after all.
However you feel about that, you can at least look to the Conservative manifesto to see what is in store for the NHS. Or at least you should be able to. Last time of course, after promising no top-down reorganisations, within weeks the government embarked on the biggest reorganisation in the service’s history.
But let’s assume the new government will not want to cause such a major upheaval in successive parliamentary terms, and that it will stick broadly to its manifesto and the pledges made during the election campaign.
Some of these pledges will be a cause for optimism for many nurses. Few would disagree with the Conservatives’ promise to meet the additional £8bn funding called for in NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View - although the £22bn efficiency savings promised by NHS England in return will raise many eyebrows. The party has also promised to ensure mental health is given equal priority as physical health, to ensure everyone diagnosed with dementia receives a ‘meaningful care plan’ to support them, to improve public health and ensure the NHS has increased accountability when mistakes are made.
Other pledges may be more divisive - many wonder where the money and staff will be found to create a truly 24/7 NHS, while some say the Cancer Drugs Fund - which is to continue - diverts money away from other patients and into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies.
However, as Professor Donna Mead said when addressing the Student Nursing Times Awards last week, if you want to make the NHS a fit place for patients, you have to be interested in politics.
So take a look at the Conservative manifesto and see what you’ve been promised - this time there are no other party policies to consider. Only then can health professionals collectively hold the government to account for the pledges they support, and develop their arguments to caution against those they don’t support.