Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Health Policy

What are political parties offering voters?

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 17 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6038
  1. Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight, London, UK
  1. andycowper{at}

The main UK parties’ annual conferences last month gave us a chance to see how the NHS is being affected by the populism and turbulence engulfing the country’s politics, says Andy Cowper

One thing that is crystal clear from the spending announcements of Boris Johnson’s government is that the public sector austerity that has reigned since 2010 is dead and buried. The Conservatives have pledged to substantially upgrade six hospitals, to give “seed funding” to a further 34 to progress existing redevelopment plans, and to provide a five year rolling programme for investment in the NHS.

How will this extra spending be paid for? The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies reviewed the proposals in early September and concluded that “total spending will be £13.4bn [€15.4bn; $17bn] higher next year than was planned in the spring.”1 It added, “This is enough to reverse around two thirds of the real cuts to day-to-day spending on public services—at least on average—since 2010, and around one third of the cuts to per capita spending.”

Since then, the government has made more spending promises around their conference and since, including NHS …

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