The Conservative Party has firmly backed the NHS Five Year Forward View in its election manifesto. It includes an explicit commitment to spend at least an extra £8bn a year on the NHS, over and above inflation, by 2020.
- Conservative manifesto commits to spend at least £8bn more on the NHS by 2020
- Chancellor has said this is in addition to £2bn promised in autumn statement
- Manifesto restates prime minister’s pledges on seven day services
The manifesto document also includes a series of commitments to increase access to services and set up a “truly seven day NHS”, prompting concerns over how these would be paid for.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in The Guardian last weekend that the £8bn would be in addition to the £2bn revenue increase for 2015-16 announced by the government in the autumn statement.
The manifesto says a Conservative government would spend “at least an additional £8bn by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS’s own action plan [the forward view]”.
Confirming a promise made earlier this year by prime minister David Cameron, the Conservatives have also made two pledges related to seven day services:
- all patients would have access to a GP seven days a week, 12 hours a day; and
- they would also invest in staff to ensure seven day hospital services.
There is also a pledge for next day appointments for patients over 75.
The manifesto does not identify a clear source for the funds and says only that the £8bn extra spending would be possible with a “strong economy”.
Challenged on this at the manifesto launch, Mr Cameron said the £8bn was not unfunded, as it was part of the Conservatives’ fiscal plan, which includes eliminating the national deficit by 2018. However, how the deficit will be cut while the NHS funding is increased has not been fully explained.
The Health Foundation raised concern about how the Conservatives’ other health pledges could be paid for. Policy director Richard Taunt said: “A promise to extend services to seven days a week would require resources in addition to the £8bn needed just to maintain the range and quality of care the NHS currently provides.
“Parties pledging to extend services would have to explain where extra funding to make these service improvements would come from.”
The Conservative manifesto also says that in government, the party “cleared out bureaucracy, generating savings which we have invested in care for patients”.
The 2012 Health Act reforms led to NHS manager numbers falling by around 18 per cent between 2010 and 2014.
The Conservatives’ key health pledges
- Implement the NHS Five Year Forward View, supported by an additional £8bn real terms increase in funding by 2020, but without details of how this would be funded.
- Universal access to seven day GP services, 8am-8pm, by 2020, and ensure hospitals are properly staffed every day of the week.
- Guaranteed same day appointments for over 75s who need them. All patients to be given the right to access a specific, named GP.
- Integrate health and care with initiatives including the better care fund – although there is no commitment to ringfence government spending on social care.
- Consider how best to recognise and reward high performance among clinical staff.
- Prioritise research into a cure for dementia and rare cancers.
- A cap on charges for residential social care from April 2016, and the introduction of deferred payments for residential care so no one has to sell their home.
- However there is no mention of a ringfence on social care spending, despite the forward view’s insistence that its reforms can only be implemented if social care services are sustained.