The Conservative Party has pledged to ensure the NHS and social care services have the nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff they need, and to prioritise negotiations so European Union staff can “carry on making their vital contribution to our health and care system” following Brexit.
In its manifesto, published today, the party did not provide details on how it would ensure an adequate supply of nurses and midwives.
“We cannot continue to rely on bringing in clinical staff instead of training sufficient numbers ourselves”
Conservative Party election manifesto
But it acknowledged that “we cannot continue to rely on bringing in clinical staff instead of training sufficient numbers ourselves”, before going on to say it would continue with plans to increase investment in doctors’ training.
More widely, it said it would “continue to bear down” on immigration from outside the EU. Following Brexit, it said it would reduce the number of people coming to the UK from Europe, while still allowing Britain to attract “the skilled workers our economy needs”.
The party also said that, if it won the general election, it would reform the “outdated” system of professional regulation for healthcare professionals.
Meanwhile, it would support health service clinicians to develop their skills, and encourage the development of new roles to create “a diverse set of potential career paths” for the workforce.
“This manifesto…offers a vision of… the most ambitious programme of investment in people, technology and buildings the NHS has ever seen”
NHS employees’ entitlements to flexible working would also be strengthened and quicker access would be provided to mental health and musculoskeletal services for staff, while the party would also take action to reduce bullying rates in the health service.
NHS spending would be increased by a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years, stated the Conservative manifesto.
In addition, commitments were made to the “most ambitious programme of investment in buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen”, in order to address the fact the NHS “has been forced to use too many inadequate and antiquated facilities”.
The party said it would build and upgrade primary care facilities, mental health clinics and hospitals across England, to ensure more care could be delivered closer to home.
A previously announced commitment to recruit up to 10,000 more mental health professionals by 2020 was reiterated in the manifesto, as was the party’s plan to introduce the first Mental Health Bill for 35 years to improve mental health treatment.
The manifesto also repeated a previous government announcement that the Conservatives would publish a “green paper” on young people’s mental health before the end of 2017.
In addition, it would ensure every school had a single point of contact with mental health services and that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) would be reformed so pupils with serious conditions were seen within an “appropriate timeframe” and the practice of children having to leave their local area for treatment was halted.
The manifesto repeated the party’s intention to ensure the NHS in England could provide “a truly seven-day” service, including plans to ensure everyone in the country could get weekend or evening appointments at a nearby GP surgery by 2019.
Meanwhile, as was reported earlier on today, the Conservatives said they would reform social care by taking into account the value of a person’s home when they were means-tested for how much they should pay towards domiciliary care.
At the same time, it would ensure that the threshold for means-tested social care was raised to £100,000 from the current £23,250, meaning “no matter how large the cost of care turns out to be, people will always retain at least £100,000 of their savings and assets, including value in the family home”.
It would also extend the system of deferring payments until after someone has died – which is currently in place for residential care – to include those receiving domiciliary care, said the party.
“This manifesto sets out a vision for Britain’s future – not just for the next five years, but beyond. It identifies the five giant challenges we face and what we will do to address them,” said Conservative Party leader Theresa May in the manifesto’s introduction.
“In doing so, it offers a vision of the kind of country I want Britain to be,” she said. “A Britain in which the economy is strong to support world-class public services, with the most ambitious programme of investment in people, technology and buildings the NHS has ever seen; record – and fair – funding for schools; and the first ever proper plan to pay for – and provide – social care.”