Editorials

Plans of the main political parties for the NHS

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2089 (Published 20 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2089
  1. Nigel Edwards, chief executive
  1. 1Nuffield Trust, London, UK
  1. nigel.edwards{at}nuffieldtrust.org.uk

What they deliver is likely to be substantially more painful

The 2010 election failed to tease out where the parties stood on the NHS, which led to some unpleasant surprises. This time the parties have been telling their story in more detail. As it is likely that the result of the election will be a coalition or minority government, what is implemented may be quite different from what is advertised. Nonetheless, the manifestos do set the starting position for any negotiation.1 2 3

On spending, both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have committed to meeting the £8bn (€11bn; $12bn) real terms increase that NHS England’s Five Year Forward View implies is the minimum needed to meet rising demand and costs over the next five years, assuming huge efficiency savings.4 However, the Liberal Democrat promise would not materialise until half way through the parliament, and there is uncertainty about when the full Conservative pledge would come on-stream. Labour has, so far, not matched this— perhaps because of its desire to appear fiscally prudent. It does identify £2.5bn to fund additional staff, but how credible this is in the absence …

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