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Conservative election pledges on health and the NHS

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What has the Conservatives Party pledged about the NHS ahead of the general election?

What are pledges made so far by this party on the NHS?

Nursing Times has analysed the pre-election speeches and policy announcements of the main parties ahead of the election on 7 May.

Read below to find out what the Conservatives have said about health and the NHS, and then compare it with the other parties in the special election section of our website.

 

What key pledges have grabbed the headlines?

The prime minister has pledged to create a “truly seven day NHS” by 2020 if the Conservatives win the next election. It marks the first main pre-election pledge on health from the Tories.

Speaking at his party’s spring forum, David Cameron said he wanted “hospitals properly staffed, especially for urgent and emergency care, so that everyone will have access to the NHS services they need seven days a week by 2020”.

He also hinted at efforts to make more consultants work at weekends, noting that at present “the key decision-makers aren’t always there”.

 

What has the party pledged to do on workforce issues?

The party has largely stuck to highlighting the overall increase in the size of the nursing workforce across the coalition’s term in office, while avoiding pledges to increase it further by any set amount.

Speaking at an event last month, health minister Dr Dan Poulter claimed the government had increased the nursing workforce by 8,500 in the past few years.

He added that the party had committed to training 5,000 extra nurses and allied health professionals, and 5,000 more GPs to boost the community workforce.

Meanwhile, in response to a question from the audience, he said that the downbanding by trusts of specialist nurse posts was “unacceptable”.

 

What has the party pledged to do for NHS finances?

The NHS was notable in its absence from the chancellor’s last budget speech.

However, Jeremy Hunt has indicated a future Conservative government would meet NHS England’s £8bn spending requirement to fund the Five-Year Forward View.

The five-year plan involves a total of £30bn being put into NHS care, with £22bn found through efficiency savings and £8bn in extra spending. Under the plan drawn up by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, £2bn a year would be needed from the government until 2019-20.

In a Sunday Times interview, the health secretary: “We said to Simon Stevens, ‘How much do you need for your plan next year, the first year of your five-year plan?’ He said ‘£1.7bn’, and we actually found him £2bn.

“We’re now doing the work as to what the efficiency savings are. The gap might be more than £8bn, it might be less,” said Mr Hunt. “That will all be settled in the summer when we do the spending-round discussions. We will continue to spend more in real terms year in, year out.”

Subsequently, writing in The Guardian on 11 April, chancellor George Osborne said: “I can confirm that in the Conservative manifesto we will commit to a minimum real terms increase in NHS funding of £8bn in the next five years.”

Conservative Party

Health minister Dan Poulter speaking during the RCN election debate

  • This page will be updated during the election campaign, as more policies are announced

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Fully agree with 7 day service, especially in large DGH and reablement services. People needing these services may then reach their optimum more quickly and importantly, safely. This will benefit the wider patient experience and overall satisfaction. Hopefully if resourced and managed well, it will see the readmission rates fall and the overall quality governance agenda delivered.

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