Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature UK General Election 2017

Conservatives and Labour trade blows on NHS

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 10 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2246
  1. Gareth Iacobucci, senior reporter
  1. The BMJ
  1. giacobucci{at}

The two main parties have stepped up their 2017 general election campaigns with claims and counterclaims on NHS numbers. Gareth Iacobucci considers the figures

The Labour Party has sought to put the health service at the forefront of its campaign. This is perhaps understandable, given the government’s perceived weakness on health and the huge pressures facing the NHS. Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, last week used the increase in hospital waiting times as his key line of attack, as he sought to provide evidence of the Conservatives’ poor stewardship of the NHS.1 He also highlighted the fact that the NHS’s target to see 95% of patients in emergency departments within four hours has not been met since July 2015 and that the target for cancer treatment waiting times to be under two months has not been met since December 2015. Ashworth was also quick to seize on leaked figures indicating that people waiting more than four months for non-emergency surgery could double to 5.5 million by 2019.2

Defending his record on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on 7 May, the health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, said, “We …

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